May 21, 2022

U.S. Publishers Report Overall Lower Book Sales in May and Year to Date, Downloaded Audio Doing Very Well

From the AAP:

Publishers’ book sales for January through May were down 5.8% for the year to date at $4.0 billion compared to $4.3 billion for the same five months last year. These numbers include sales for all tracked categories (Trade – fiction/non-fiction, K-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses).

The monthly statistics  are tracked by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and include sales from more than 1,200 publishers.


Trade Books declined 3.4%, falling to 2.56 billion from 2.65 billion compared to Jan. – May 2014. Adult, Children/Young Adult and Religious Presses were each down in May 2015, compared to May 2014. Despite the weak sales in May for Adult Books was up 1.5% year-to-date.

Downloaded audio remained the fastest-growing format, with 38.0% growth through May compared to the same time last year. This growth trend was especially apparent this month in the Adult Books category, where downloaded audio posted a hefty 62.4% gain this May compared to May 2014.

Paperbacks also continued their good performance this year with 8.4% growth, compared to the same five-month period last year. Hardback Books and eBooks were down for the month as well as 11.6% and 10.2% respectively year-to-date

Educational Materials

Revenues for PreK-12 instructional materials were down in May by 12.0%. Higher Education course materials were up in May by 20.9%. Both categories are down year-to-date.

Professional and Scholarly Publishing

Sales for Professional Publishing, which includes business, medical, law, scientific and technical books and journals, are up 5.9% for the year so far compared to 2014. However, University Presses were down 4.0%.

* NOTE: Figures represent publishers’ net revenue for the U.S. (i.e. what publishers sell to bookstores, direct to consumer, online venues, etc.), and are not retailer/consumer sales figures.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.