May 18, 2022

U.S. Publishers Report Lower Sales at Start of 2016, eBooks Decline

From the Association of American Publishers:

Note:  Publisher net revenue is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes sales data from more than 1,200 publishers. 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.

Publishers’ revenues were down Jan. 2016, compared to Jan.2015. Trade publishing had double-digit declines in Childrens/YA Books and Adult Books, while Religious Presses had modest gains.

Notably, eBook sales had another steep decline with reporting publisher sales declining nearly 25%, compared to Jan. 2015.

Big Picture Data

  • Publishers’ book sales for Jan. 2016 were $991.7 million, down 6.7% from $1.06 billion in Jan. 2015.  These numbers include sales for all tracked categories (Trade – fiction/non-fiction/religious, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses.)
  • Trade (consumer) books sales were $488 million in Jan. 2016, down 13.7% from $565.4 million in Jan. 2015. This includes Childrens/YA Books, Adult Books and Religious Books.

o   Adult Books had $338.9 million in sales in Jan. 2016, down 12.9% from $389.2 million.

o   Childrens/YA Books had $111.7 million in sales in Jan 2016, down 20.4% from $140.3 million.

o   Religious Presses grew by 4.2%, up to $37.5 million from $36.0 million.

Format Trends for Trade

  • Trends appeared to continue from 2015. In Jan. 2016 vs Jan. 2015:

o   Paperback books grew 4.3% to $169.3 million and downloaded audio grew  30.1% to $20.4 million.

o   eBooks were down 24.9% to $99.9 million and hardback books declined 18.7% to $151.3 million.

Educational Materials and Professional Books

Educational Materials had gains of 7.9% for K-12 Instructional Materials and 2.2% for Higher Education Course Materials, in Jan. 2016 vs Jan. 2015.


Professional Publishing was down 19.8% in Jan. 2016 vs Jan. 2015 which includes business, medical, law, scientific and technical books and journals.

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.