January 16, 2022

Publisher Sales $2.14 Billion in the First Quarter of 2016, E-Books and University Press Book Sales Decline

From the Association of American Publishers:

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 3.0% in March 2016, and 2.7% for the first quarter of 2016 vs. the same timeframes in 2015.

Trade books declined 7.4% in the first quarter due to declines in the largest categories, Adult Books (-10.3%) and Childrens/YA (-2.1%).

With the trade category down, the decline in eBooks was pronounced – down 21.4% for March and 21.8% year-over-year.


  • Publishers’ book sales for March 2016 were $501.8 million, down 3.0% from March 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.)

o   For the first quarter of the year, sales were down 2.7% to $2.14 billion vs. the same three months in 2015.

  • Trade (consumer) books sales were $458.7 million in March 2016, down 5.6% from March 2015. This includes Childrens/YA Books, Adult Books and Religious Books.
  • In the first quarter of 2016, compared to the first quarter of 2015:

o   Trade sales were down 7.4% to $1.37 billion

o   Adult Books had $941.3 million in sales, down 10.3%

o   Childrens/YA Books had $320.5 million in sales, down 2.1%

o   Religious Presses had $105.9 million in sales, up by 5.8%

Trends for Trade by Format

  • In the first quarter 2016 vs. the first quarter 2015:

o   Paperback books grew 6.1%

o   Downloaded audio grew 35.3%

o   Hardback books declined 8.5%

o   eBooks were down 21.8%

Educational Materials and Professional Books

  • Educational Materials had gains of 8.6% for K-12 Instructional Materials and 20.3% for Higher Education Course Materials, in the first quarter of. 2016 vs the first three months of 2015. Though not as dramatic as Feb., both sectors saw gains in March, a lower volume month for sales.
  • Professional Publishing was down 24.4% in the first quarter of. 2016 vs the first three months of 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were down 4.6%.
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.