Industry sales could not maintain their strong start to the year in 2023, though they did manage to rise 0.2% in February over a year ago at the 1,240 companies that report results to AAP’s StatShot program.
The only segments with a gain over last year's results were religious publishing, where sales rose by 11.0%, and higher education, where sales rose 4.7%. In the trade side, sales in the children's/young adult category dipped 0.6% in the month. Hardcover books in the segment fell by 5.5%, but that declined was mostly offset by a 1.4% increase in paperback sales and double-digit increases in digital sales.
Even a significantly lower return rate in all print formats compared to last February could not save adult books from falling 2.1%. All print formats had declines in the month, led by a 13.1% decline in sales of hardcovers. While e-book sales fell 7.6%, sales of digital audio jumped 33.5% in the month. With sales of $73.3 million, audio sales topped e-book sales of $71.6 million from reporting publishers. Last February, e-books out sold audio by $77.4 million to $54.9 million.
In the other categories, professional books sales dropped 7.9% in February, and sales at university presses declined 15.6%. For the first two months of 2023, sales from all reporting publishers were up 1.8%; sales of adult books rose 2%, but were down 1.4% for children's/YA.