Sales at the 1,277 publishers who report results to the Association of American Publishers’ StatShot program inched up 0.2% for the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. Small sales gains posted in January and February were mostly offset by a 3.8% decline in March.

This month, StatShot rolled out a new look, after the Association of American Publishers hired a new firm to manage its statistics program. The monthly updates now provide a more detailed look at the sales performance of the industry, especially in terms of how sales are performing across different formats.

It comes as no surprise that digital audio continues to be the hottest format. Sales of digital audiobooks in the adult book segment rose 14.7% in the quarter, accounting for 15.2% of total category sales, up from 13.2% in the first quarter of 2023. Adult e-book sales fell 2.1% in the period, and its 15.9% market share was down from 16.1% a year ago. All adult book print formats had declines in the period, and as a result, total sales in the adult segment fell 1% from last year’s first quarter.

The new StatShot format also offers a deeper look into how fiction and nonfiction are doing in the adult book and children’s/YA segments. According to StatShot, adult fiction sales rose 3.6% in the quarter, while nonfiction sales dropped 5.8%. The figures reflect similar findings by Circana BookScan, which show solid unit sales for fiction and continued softness in nonfiction sales.

Total children’s/YA segment sales declined 9.7% in the quarter, with nonfiction sales down 5.8% and fiction sales falling 10.5%. Digital audio sales had a solid quarter, with sales up 25.4%, but the format still accounts for a small percentage of segment sales, at 4%--the same market share claimed by e-books. On the print side, which remains the engine driver for the category, hardcover sales were down 13.2%, while paperback sales dropped 7.9%.

Outside the Trade

Religious presses had a good quarter, with sales up 5.2% over 2023. Digital audio and e-books had good gains in the quarter, up 9.5% and 6.6%, respectively, but the formats accounted for only a combined 13% of category sales. The format of choice for religion book buyers remains print—primarily hardcover—and sales of the format rose 7.6% in the quarter.

The higher education segment boasted the best first quarter, with sales increasing 11.5%. Professional book sales dipped 2.9%, and sales at university presses increased 0.9%.