Total publishing industry sales fell 4.5% through September compared to 2021, with trade sales down 3.3%, at the 1,368 publishers that report revenue to the AAP’s StatShot program.

The two trade segments fared between than other industry categories, with sales of adult books down 3.6% in the period and children’s/YA sales dropping 2.7%. Sales of religious pressed declined 6.1%, and sales of professional titles fell 5.3%. Sales of higher educational course materials dropped 6.7%, and university sales fell 12.2%. Pre-K instructional material data as been delayed.

In the adult category, the sales decline was largely due to a 13.8% drop in hardcover sales, which fell to $1.20 billion in the nine months at reporting publishers. Sales of trade paperbacks increased 6.7% in the period, and topped sales of the more expensive hardcover format, generating revenue of $1.47 billion. On the digital side, downloadable audio sales rose 7.5% in the nine-month period, but e-book sales fell 5.2%.

The pattern was the same in the children’s/YA segment, with a 10.6% decline in hardcover sales offsetting a 2.4% increase in paperback sales. Special binding sales dipped 1.6%. Sales were down 3.3% in the downloadable audio category, and fell 12.3% for e-books.

Sales in both the adult and children’s/YA categories were also negatively impacted by a 10.5% and 18.7% increase in returns, respectively, in the first nine months of the year. The higher returns coincide with reports from several publishers that returns from Amazon have been higher this year compared to the previously two years.