Total book sales rose 1.0% in 2008, to $40.3 billion, and are expected to rise 1.8% in 2009, according to estimates released at BookExpo America by the Book Industry Study Group. Unit sales fell 1.5% last year. Similar to statistics released earlier this year by the Association of American Publishers, BISG found declines last year in the trade and religion segments and gains in higher education. But while the AAP reported declines in the elhi and professional segments in 2008, BISG reported increases in both segments. The $40 billion estimate is also much higher than the $24.2 billion in sales estimated by the AAP and the $35.2 billion in total sales estimated by the PW/IPR Book Sales Index (PW, April 27).

BISG used a new methodology this year, one that included surveys and interviews with small, medium and large publishers in an attempt to get a more “robust view” of the industry, BISG executive director Michael Healy explained. For several years before the new report, BISG did surveys to gauge the sales of independent publishers in addition to its traditional report, and the approach in the new study was aimed at integrating those sales into the main report, said Leigh Watson Healy, chief analyst at Outsell and head analyst for BISG Trends 2009. Watson Healy said responses from independent publishers to the 2008 survey, which was e-mailed to 70,283 publishers, were sufficient to give her confidence that “we have a statistically valid survey.” According to the report, approximately 32% of industry revenue, $12.7 billion, in 2008 was generated by more than 100,000 companies with sales below $50 million.

The new report also gives a breakdown of sales by format and channel. Investments that publishers have made in digital publishing, Watson Healy said, are beginning to pay off. Sales of digital books—excluding audiobook downloads—hit $113 million for adult trade publishers last year and $451 million for professional publishers. Trade e-book sales are expected to increase by just under 10% in 2009.

In looking at 2009, Watson Healy sees a bit of a bounce back for the trade segments and slower growth for the professional and educational segments. The improvement in trade is based in part on the strong fall lineup, which includes books by such authors as Dan Brown and John Irving. The juvenile segment should remain relatively flat since parents continue to show a willingness of buy books for their children even during a recession. Tight budgets at institutions, such as libraries and schools, should slow growth in the elhi segment, while cost cutting at corporations should dent sales in the professional segment, Watson Healy said. The religion segment, which BISG, AAP and PW/IPR all agreed had a poor 2008, is expected by BISG to have another down year in 2009, with Healy Watson observing the segment is suffering from the lack of blockbuster titles that had driven its growth earlier in the decade.

As part of its channel analysis, BISG forecast that sales over the Internet will increase 7.7% in 2009, to $1.09 billion, while bookstore sales will stay flat at $3.63 billion. Publishers, Watson Healy said, “all expect online to continue to grow.”

Publishers' Net Sales
($ in millions)

Net Dollar Sales ($M) Year to Year Change CAGR
2007 2008 2009p 2010p 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2007-10 2008-10
* NOTE: 2007 figures are pro forma estimates based on new segment definitions and content type allocations. p=projected
Source: BISG Trends 2009
Adult Trade $11,392 $11,125 $11,214 $11,483 -2.3% 0.8 % 2.4 % 0.3 % 1.6 %
Juvenile Trade 3,657 3,609 3,598 3,652 -1.3 -0.3 1.5 0.0 0.6
Religious 2,575 2,318 2,225 2,296 -10.0 -4.0 3.2 -3.8 -0.5
Professional * 8,358 8,696 8,961 9,116 4.0 3.0 1.7 2.9 2.4
Scholarly * 1,375 1,428 1,446 1,470 3.9 1.3 1.7 2.3 1.5
Elhi * 7,056 7,373 7,606 7,827 4.5 3.2 2.9 3.5 3.0
College * 5,524 5,772 5,990 6,184 4.5 3.8 3.2 3.8 3.5
ALL SEGMENTS $39,936 $40,321 $41,040 $42,028 1.0% 1.8% 2.4% 1.7% 2.1%