May 25, 2022

Book Publisher Revenue Estimated at $25.8 Billion in 2018

From the Association of American Publishers:

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) issued its StatShot Annual Report for Calendar Year 2018 today, which concludes that the U.S. book publishing industry generated an estimated $25.82 billion in net revenue, representing 2.71 billion units. All figures represent publishers’ net revenue from tracked categories (trade, higher education course materials, preK-12 instructional materials, professional books, and university press), in all formats, from all distribution channels. These are not retailer/consumer sales figures.

Publishing revenue for trade books (fiction, non-fiction, and religious presses) increased slightly (1.5%) to $16.19 billion in 2018. Since 2014, publisher revenue for trade books, the industry’s largest category, has increased by about $760 million.

Publisher Revenue in Billions 2014 – 2018

Highlights From the Report

Non-fiction books (both adult and children’s & young adult) experienced the largest percentage revenue growth for publishers over the past five years. Adult non-fiction revenues grew 22.8% and children’s & young adult non-fiction revenues grew 38.5% from 2014 – 2018. Unit sales for adult non-fiction and children’s & young adult non-fiction grew 20.9% and 17.8%, respectively, over the same five-year period.

For the second consecutive year, publisher sales to online retail channels exceeded sales to physical retail channels with sales to online retail at $8.03 billion and sales to physical retail at $6.90 billion.

Publisher revenue for adult fiction was flat (0.4%) at $4.40 billion in 2018, while children’s & young adult fiction grew slightly (1.6%) to $3.72 billion.

Religious presses revenue grew 14.7% in 2018 to $1.22 billion with 75.7% of the revenue coming from print formats.

Unit sales for fiction for children’s & young adults declined by 0.8%, while non-fiction for children’s & young adults increased by 0.4%. Publisher revenue for children’s & young adult fiction has grown by 1.6% to $3.72 billion and non-fiction has increased by 11.9% to around $730 million.

Downloaded audio remained the fastest growing format, with 28.7% year-over-year revenue growth from 2017 to 2018 and 181.8% revenue growth over the past five years (2014 – 2018).

Within online retail channels, 45.1% of publishers’ sales were trade print formats, 24.5% were eBooks, 14.5% were instructional materials, 13.7% were downloaded audio, and 2.2% were physical audio or a different format.

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.