April was far from the cruelest month for book sales, with the 1,277 publishers that report results to the Association of American Publishers’ StatShot program showing an 18.3% increase over April 2023. Every major category posted an increase over last April, and proved a heartening change of pace following a flat first quarter this year. With the April bounce, total sales for reporting publishers were up 4.2% in the first four months of 2024 over the comparable period a year ago.

The religious book segment had the largest improvement in April, with sales up 38.2% across all formats. The largest increase came in the segment’s biggest category, hardcover, with sales jumping 41.5%, helped in part by a substantial decline in returns.

Sales of adult books rose 25.1% in April. Digital audiobooks continued their strong performance in the month, with sales skyrocketing 57.3% over the comparable period a year ago. E-book sales also did well, with sales up 19.8%. The two big print formats, hardcover and trade paperback, had gains of 17.6% and 29.2%, respectively.

Within the adult category, nonfiction had its best month in some time, with sales up 23.5%—an increase that pushed the category to a 0.2% increase in the first four months of the year. Adult fiction continued its strong 2024 run, with April sales ahead 26.5% and year-to-date sales up 8.7%.

Although the market share for digital audiobooks in the children’s/young adult segment is much smaller than it is in the adult segment, the category still boasted a big gain in that space in April, with sales jumping 41.5% and helping to drive a 5.5% increase across the entire segment. The hardcover and paperback formats had increases of 3.1% and 4.3%, respectively. Within children’s/YA, fiction sales rose 9.5%, but nonfiction dropped 10.6%.

In the other categories, sales of higher educational course materials increased 17.7%, and sales of professional book rose 6.7%. The preK-12 instructional materials segment, where sales reporting has often been delayed, reported an April sales increase of 12.2%. University press sales increased 9% in the month.