Year-end figures from the Association of American Publishers’ StatShot program show a sales decline of 6.4% in 2022 compared to 2021. The figures are based on data from 1,372 publishers that participate in the program. Total sales from those publishers were $12.65 billion last year, down from $13.51 billion in 2021. The decline came after sales had a solid increase in 2021.
Sales were down in all publishing categories, including in the two trade categories. Adult book sales fell 6.4%, and sales in children’s/young adult dropped 5.7%. Sales of religion books were down 6.1%, and sales of professional books declined 5.5%. Higher educational course materials sales dropped 10.3%, and sales of university presses, by far the smallest category, fell 10.3%. The sales report for K–12 materials has been delayed.
The decline in the trade segment was due in large part to a drop in hardcover sales. In adult books, hardcover sales fell 16.2%, offsetting a 3.7% increase in sales of trade paperbacks. Trade paperback sales were $1.97 billion last year, topping hardcover revenue of $1.86 billion; in 2021, hardcover sales were $2.22 billion, and trade paperback sales were $1.9 billion. Mass market paperback sales fell 25.8% in the year, to $179 million. With declines in hardcover and mass market, print sales of adult books fell 8% from 2021, and print’s share of adult sales dropped to 69.6%, from 70.9% in 2021.
On the digital side, downloadable audiobook sales rose 7.9%, while sales of e-books fell 5.5%. Digital audio accounted for 12.6% of adult sales in 2022, up from 10.9% in 2021, while e-books’ market share rose to 14.7%, from 14.5%.
The sales drop in the children’s/YA category was primarily due to a 6.9% decline in print sales. The hardcover format had the steepest decline, with sales falling 12.5%, while sales of paperbacks slipped 1.9%, and special binding sales dropped 8.1%. Print sales, which have always been more important in the children’s/YA category than in adult books, accounted for 87.9% of revenue in 2022, down from 89% in 2021. Sales of downloadable audio fell 1.6%, while e-book sales dropped 12.2%.
Hardcover sales fell 6.6% in the religious books category, while trade paperback sales dropped 9.7%. Downloadable audio sales rose 5.6%, but e-book sales dropped 12.4%.
Combined hardcover sales of adult, children’s/YA, and religious books fell 13.9% last year from 2021. Hardcover accounted for 35.6% of total revenue in those three categories, down from 38.4% in 2021. The 13.9% sales decline in hardcover is close to the 10.4% decrease in unit sales reported by NPD BookScan earlier this year. A number of publishers have also pointed to lower hardcover sales last year compared to 2021 in recent financial reports.
Later this year, AAP will release additional sales data that includes estimates for publishers that do not report revenue to the association.