Updated: As Print Book Revenues Plunge, E-Books Aren’t Making It Up

10 Comments

Looking at book publishing statistics and noting huge e-book growth is fun–but not in the case of the new statistics released by the Association of American Publishers, which show print book revenues substantially down and the 161 percent growth in e-book revenues in the first six months of the year unable to make up for that loss. Update: I corrected the net revenue figures below.

The AAP’s monthly reports represent sales figures from 79 publishers reporting data in four markets (trade, K-12, higher education and professional/scholarly publishing). 15 of those publishers also provided data on e-books. These stats are less comprehensive than those provided by BookStats, the AAP’s joint venture with the Book Industry Study Group, which launched last month and includes data from nearly 2,000 publishers. Early BookStats reports showed that book sales grew between 2008 and 2010.

The AAP’s new stats refer to trade books:

Total sales of adult hardcover, paperback and mass market paperback books were $1.23 billion for the first six months of 2011, compared to $1.65 billion in the first six months of 2010–a 25.9 percent decrease.

Total sales of children’s hardcover and paperback books were $447.2 million for the first half of the year, compared to $516 million in the first half of 2010–a 13.3 percent decrease.

E-book revenues were up substantially, totaling $473.8 million in the first six months of 2011, compared to $181.3 million in the first six months of 2010–a 161.3 percent increase.

Sales of downloaded audiobooks also increased by 17 percent during the period.

Combined, sales from all of those categories combined–adult hardcover, paperback and mass market; children’s hardcover and paperback; downloadable audiobooks and e-books–were $5.85 billion for the first half of 2011, compared to $7.21 billion for the first half of 2010–a decease of 18.9 percent. Correction: Guys, apparently I forgot how to do math yesterday. The figures are much lower. These are the correct figures: Sales from adult hardcover, paperback and mass market; children’s hardcover and paperback; downloadable audiobooks and e-books–were $2.19 billion for the first half of 2011, compared to $2.39 billion for the first half of 2010. I apologize for the error.

10 Comments

mal

no surprise, very similar to the changes already with music and video content move to digital

Derek Lark

I don’t believe you can just look at gross figures, ebooks are much cheaper than print books.  Therefore you need to look at market share figures.
 
The future for print books on these numbers is pretty grim.
 
Regards
Derek

Guest

Hey everyone, 1) please note that I had the total net revs wrong; they are substantially lower. The corrected figures are above. 2) @twitter-213543231:disqus is completely right to point out that this data is limited and it’s not a great idea to draw broad conclusions about the industry from it when only 15 publishers are reporting their e-book numbers. For a broader look we can turn to BookStats, the joint report from the AAP and Book Industry Study Group, which includes data from 2,000 publishers. But BookStats has not yet released 2011 data. I will, of course, post when it does. 3) There is not yet a BookScan (which reports sales of print books) for e-books but I really hope it is not too far off.

olsen jay nelson

Hi laura, I’ve been wondering about this. I’m a bit worried about the comparison here, though: “The AAP’s monthly reports represent sales figures from 79 publishers reporting data in four markets (trade, K-12, higher education and professional/scholarly publishing). 15 of those publishers also provided data on e-books.”  It’s unclear from this whether the rest held out on their e-book data or they didn’t have any to give: probably a bit of both?  Anyway, combining all of this data will probably lead to spurious clonclusions; we probably shouldn’t expect e-books sales from this research to make up the shortfall due to the limits of the data – representing e-books sales accurately needs a broader approach that this.  I think the data should just be kept simple and seperate to err on the side of caution and the fact that so much data is absent: one is up and the rest are down, and a sample of traditional publishers are making less money, which all conforms to our expectations….

Roberto

Off course if you limit for some publishers ebook grow will not match. There is much more publishers working with ebooks including a lot of self publishing. Much more titles much less money for each publisher… per publisher the ebook market is smaller.

Jason Hecker

Not surprising — the amount of free content available on the web, coupled with the trained shortened attention span of the average reader would seem to me to be a perfect storm for declining book sales. Much like “land line” telephones — there will always be a place for books, but the industry is shrinking, not gaining.

Guest

@contentnext-b2d480a4453ebdf16df158c05281fe0a:disqus @twitter-755692:disqus Hey guys, sorry if I presented this confusingly. I’ve added a graph to make things more clear as well as the net calculation. As you’ll see from the graph, e-books have lower revenues as a category compared to the print categories combined, even though e-books grew so much. Let me know if you have other questions or things I should clarify.

Ron Stitt

Chris, I think combined is down because the base on the e-book side is a lot smaller.  Strangely, writer doesn’t do the net calc for us, but if I’m doing the math right it’s about -$196m (- 9%).  It seems like the gap is much closer on this digital dimes v analog pennies issue than we’ve seen with music/electronic media ie; TV publishers.  That could be good news for book pubs… presumably because while e-revenues may be lower, expenses (production, distribution) are also much lower.  Also, the rate of growth e-book revenue is very encouraging…mind-boggling almost.  Of course, that’s not all accruing to the dead-trees publishers, partly because of the nature of the beast and probably also because they’re conflicted about embracing e-books.

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