The release of more industry statistics suggests that last fall was a difficult period for publishing, particularly the trade segment.
According to the Association of American Publishers’ StatShot program, sales in the adult books category fell 13% in November compared to 2021, and dropped 17.2% in the children’s/young adult category. Total sales for the 1,371 publishers who submit data to AAP were down 14.4%. In October, adult sales fell 16.4%, children’s/YA dropped 9.9%, and total sales were off 9.3%.
The November decline in the adult category was due primarily to a 24.8% decrease in the sale of hardcovers, where net sales were hurt by another jump in returns. Sales of trade paperbacks inched ahead 0.5% over November 2021. An 8.3% increase in downloadable audiobook sales helped to offset 4.7% decline in e-book sales on the digital side; audio sales from reporting publishers were $64.3 million, while e-book sales were $71.8 million.
Weak hardcover sales also drove the decline in the children’s/YA category. Sales of the format fell 24.4% in the month, while paperback sales dropped 12.4%. Sales of both digital audio and e-books also fell by double digits in the month.
In 2021, publishers and booksellers urged consumers to buy books early to avoid missing out on titles because of supply chain issues, but no similar campaign was launched last fall, which likely contributed to the drop in trade sales.
In the other publishing segments, religion sales fell 6.5% in November, and sales of professional books fell 7.4%. Sales in the higher educational course materials declined 19.2%.
Total sales through November from all reporting publishers fell 6% from the comparable period in 2021. Adult sales were down 6.4%, and children’s/YA sales fell 5.3%.