Total book sales rose 5.5%, to $26.87 billion, in 2002, according to preliminary estimates released by the Association of American Publishers. The 5.5% increase (if it holds up when final figures are released) represents a significant improvement over the 0.6% increase in sales in 2001. The sales increase was led by a 12.4% gain in the college segment, to nearly $3.9 billion, and an 11.7% increase in sales of mass market paperbacks, to $1.73 billion. The trade segment had an 8.8% sales increase, to $6.93 billion.

While the gains in the college and mass market paperback segments seem to square with revenue gains reported by the major players in those markets, the improvement in the trade segment appears high given reports from publishers and retailers. The Census Bureau, for example, reported that bookstore sales rose only 1.5% last year. The discrepancy between publishers' sales and bookstore sales figures could be explained in part by aggressive discounting by the stores—which would affect store sales but not publishers' receipts—and more sales through nonbookstore channels, though the evidence here is mixed. Online bookstores did well in the year, but Advanced Marketing Services, a major supplier of books to warehouse clubs, had a soft year. Sales reports from major publishers have been mixed as well. HarperCollins and AOL Time Warner Book Group had double-digit gains in 2002, while Penguin USA and S&S had gains in the single digits.

According to the AAP data, the adult trade segment did substantially better than the children's segment; adult sales rose 11.9%, to $5.09 billion, while children's sales rose 1%, to $1.83 billion. Within the adult segment, hardcover sales increased 11.8%, to $2.93 billion, while trade paperback sales increased 12.1%, to $2.16 billion. The gains in the hardcover and trade paperback segments follow two years of declining sales in both segments. In children's hardcover, sales bounced back from a 22.7% decline in 2001 to post a 3.1% sales increase, to $957 million, last year, while paperback sales, coming off a 17.9% increase in 2001, fell 1.3%, to $876 million.

There was no surprise in the elhi segment, where sales fell 5.0% last year, to $4.07 billion. The increased demand for school testing helped lift sales in the standardized test segment 7.2%, to $268 million. A sales decline of 3.8%, to $393 million, in the university press segment is consistent with reports from publishers in that segment, while a 5.8% decline, to $334 million, in mail order reflects the long-term slide of that segment. Sales in the religion segment fell 3.3%, to $1.26 billion. The decline was due to a 5.8% drop in the "other" religious category (fiction and nonfiction), while sales of Bibles rose 4.5%.

In the other segments, sales in the professional category increased 8.5%, to $5.14 billion, and book club sales rose 9.7%, to $1.46 billion.

Preliminary Estimated Book Sales 2001—2002
($ in millions)

SEGMENT 2001 2002 % CHANGE
Total Trade $6,369.9 $6,929.8 8.8%
Adult Hardcover 2,626.5 2,935.5 11.8
Adult Paperback 1,927.2 2,160.8 12.1
Children's Hardcover 928.6 957.2 3.1
Children's Paperback 887.6 876.3 -1.3
Religious 1,305.1 1,262.6 -3.3
Bibles 315.0 329.2 4.5
Other Religious 990.1 933.0 -5.8
Professional 4,739.1 5,140.1 8.5
Book Clubs 1,334.5 1,463.3 9.7
Mail Order 353.9 333.5 -5.8
Mass Market Paperback 1,546.6 1,726.8 11.7
University Presses 408.2 392.6 -3.8
Elhi 4,289.8 4,073.3 -5.0
Higher Education 3,468.9 3,898.2 12.4
Standardized Tests 250.1 268.2 7.2
Subscription Reference 819.4 797.0 -2.7
Other 577.2 589.1 2.1
Total 25,462.7 26,874.1 5.5