July 30, 2014

Statistics: U.S. Publishing Industry Annual Survey Reports $27 Billion In Net Revenue, 2.6 Billion Units For 2013

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New statistics out today from the Association of American Publishers.

 The US book and journal publishing industry generated $27.01 billion in net revenue for 2013, representing 2.59 billion in units (volume), according to BookStats Volume 4, the annual statistical survey of publishing’s size and scope being released today.

As reported in BookStats, the Trade sector – covering general consumer fiction and non-fiction – generated $14.63 billion in net revenue and 2.32 billion in volume.

For 2013, Adult Non-Fiction was the fastest-growing Trade category, surpassing Juvenile (Children’s/Young Adult) which had been the growth leader for the past two years.  In formats, eBooks hit record volume numbers while revenue was flat; downloaded audiobooks hit all-time highs in both revenue and units.  In sales channels, publishers’ net revenue from sales of digital and print content via online retail is now ahead of revenue from brick-and-mortar retail.

Highlights from the Report

Overall totals

Publishers’ net revenue for All Trade* for 2013 was $14.63 billion, representing 2.32 billion units

* “All Trade” represents Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction, Juvenile (Children’s/Young Adults) and Religion categories

Publishers’ net revenue for All US Publishing Sectors** was $27.01 billion, representing 2.59 billion units

**“All US Publishing Sectors” represents All Trade as explained above as well as  Education (K-12 and Higher Ed learning materials) and Professional/Scholarly Journals (note:  full journals and books, not individual articles)

How do these figures compare to past years?

All Trade

While publishers’ revenue in the Trade sector has generally experienced steady annual growth since BookStats began tracking in 2008 despite the economy and other factors, 2012 was an outlier:  It was the strongest year in publishing’s recent history with a series of blockbuster releases including The Hunger Games (in Juvenile category) and Fifty Shades of Grey (in Adult Fiction category).

Conventional wisdom was that 2013 would see a significant decline in revenue and units.  Instead, there was only a slight drop in revenue and units vs 2012 while numbers continued to grow at the same pace vs earlier years.  This supports the fact that while specific, extraordinary titles may impact publishing from year to year, the industry’s health is driven by the depth and range of titles and formats produced by publishers.

In terms of revenue, this represents a -2.3% change for 2013 vs 2012 but a +4.5% change vs 2011 and +5.3% vs 2010.  For units, this represents a -1.7% change for 2013 vs 2012 but a +2.2% change vs 2010 and +11% vs 2011.

All US Publishing Sectors:

Echoing the results in the Trade sector, the overall industry – which additionally includes learning and classroom materials for K-12 and Higher Education, professional and scholarly journals – remained flat (-0.4%) vs 2012. The numbers reflect modest increases in K-12 revenue and units in 2013 and in revenue for Higher Ed and Professional/Scholarly.

Some notable highlights:

In categories: 

Adult Non-Fiction showed the strongest year-over-year growth among the five Trade sector subcategories we track (the others:  Adult Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Juvenile Non-Fiction, Religion).

Revenue:  increased +5.4% ($4.41 in 2012 to $4.65 in 2013)

Units :  +2.8% in units (488.78 million in 2012 to 502.30 in 2013)

In formats

In terms of Trade sector units, eBooks hit a record high in 2013 although Trade Paperbacks remain the #1 Trade format.  At the same time, Trade eBook revenue was essentially flat vs 2012 yet grew +43% over 2011.  These seemingly-contradictory figures could be attributed to a number of factors such as the 2012 bestsellers and retailer pricing.

Units:  +10.1% (465.49 million in 2012 to 512.70 in 2013)

Revenue:

-0.7% 2012 to 2013 ($3.06 billion in 2012 to $3.04 in 2013)

+43.4% 2011 to 2013 ($2.12 in 2011 to $3.04 in 2013)

Also in formats, downloaded audio continued its multiyear growth track, also hitting record highs in both Trade units and revenue.

Units:  +14.2% 2012 to 2013 (30.38 million in 2012 to 34.68 in 2013)

Revenue:  +19.2% 2012 to 2013 ($228.83 million in 2012 to $272.82 in 2013)

In sales channels

Background About These Numbers (via AAP) 

BookStats numbers on sales channels reflect how publishers get books into the marketplace, not retailers’ revenue from consumers.  Since some of these channels (e.g. wholesalers and jobbers) distribute these units further downstream to retailers and others, BookStats data only captures how publishers interact with those channels.  Our figures don’t provide insight into comparison of these channels’ competitive revenue.

Also note that we define Online Retail as a) physical and digital products and b) sold through both online-only sellers and the online personas of retailers also maintaining brick-and-mortar stores.

Publisher revenue from online sales now eclipses publisher revenue from all brick-and-mortar channels combined:  $7.54 billion (online) vs $7.12 (brick-and-mortar).  Online retail (again, including physical and digital content) now represents 35.4% of all Trade publisher revenue.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.