Total book sales fell 2.8% in 2008, to $24.3 billion, according to estimates released last week by the Association of American Publishers. Sales were down in nine of the 14 categories measured by the association.

The totals are based on the monthly reports supplied by 81 publishers, supplemented by Census Bureau data. The AAP applies the percentage change reported in each category by the reporting companies to the previous year's totals. Sales in the spoken-word audio segment, for example, are based on figures from 13 reporting companies and showed a 21% decline in 2008, due in part to the big sales of the audio version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007. Executives in the spoken-word segment point out, however, that audio-only companies such as Brilliance and Tantor are not included in the AAP figures. The Audio Publishers Association will release its own figures, based on reports from a larger number of companies, later this year.

The largest increase in 2008 was in the e-book segment, where sales rose 68.4%, to $113.2 million. The figure is based on reports from 13 e-book publishers. The trade segment had a difficult year, particularly in hardcover, with sales down in both adult and juvenile.

The AAP estimates that industry sales grew at a 1.6% compound annual growth rate in the 2002—2008 period. During that span, the mass market paperback and the book club/mail order segments were the only ones to have a drop in sales. Excluding e-books, the religion book segment, with a 4.5% compound annual growth rate, had the strongest gain in the period.

2007 2008 % Change
Source: Association of American Publishers
Total Trade $8,525,932 $8,079,423 -5.2%
Adult Hardcover 2,800,080 2,436,070 -13.0
Adult Paperback 2,282,173 2,364,331 3.6
Children's Hardcover 2,048,155 1,794,184 -12.4
Children's Paperback 1,395,524 1,484,838 6.4
Book Clubs/Mail Order 621,605 600,470 -3.4
Mass Market Paperback 1,119,140 1,085,566 -3.0
Audiobooks 218,230 172,402 -21.0
Religion 783,411 723,872 -7.6
E-books 67,233 113,220 68.4
Professional 3,474,656 3,457,283 -0.5
Elhi 6,356,211 6,076,538 -4.4
Higher Education 3,677,970 3,777,275 2.7
Other 115,185 168,976 46.7
Total $24,959,573 $24,255,025 -2.8%