Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Industry News: Book sales on the rebound in the U.S.

Reports from the Association of American Publishers (AAP) reveal that U.S. book sales seem to be on the increase after slumping in 2008 and the first several months of 2009.

As a matter of perspective, net book sales in the U.S. in 2007 totaled $25 billion, an increase of 3.2 percent from 2006. In 2008, net book sales in the U.S. decreased 2.8 percent to $24.3 billion. The AAP reported in a press release on September 2009 sales (dated Nov. 17, 2009) that net book sales in the U.S. are up 3.6 percent overall for 2009.

In the same release, the AAP showed that net book sales in the U.S. totaled $1.26 billion in September 2009, a substantial increase of 12.3 percent from September 2008.

In September, gains were made in Adult Hardcover (74.1 percent), Adult Mass Market (33.3 percent), Children’s/YA Paperback (8.6 percent), Audio Books (2.9 percent), E-Books (170.7 percent), University Press Paperback (5.0 percent), Higher Education (5.8 percent), and Elementary /High School (1.0 percent).

In September, sales decreased in September in Adult Paperback (1.7 percent), Children’s/YA Hardcover (24.3 percent), Religious Books (18.4 percent), University Press Hardcover (3.6 percent), and Professional and Scholarly (3.7 percent).

Personally, I’m interested in the Adult Paperback category, which is the medium for my Adirondack books. Although those numbers saw a slight decline in September, and are down 8.2 percent for the year, I’m cautiously optimistic. Adult Paperback sales decreased steadily from September 2008 to April 2009 (except in December 2009, which saw an increase from the year before), but gains were made from May to August 2009. Adult Hardcover sales saw a similar trend, with decreased sales from September 2008 to May 2009 and increases from June to September 2009.

Does this mean the economic downturn is over for book sales? I don’t know; I’m not an expert. But the book sales reports are encouraging.

U.S. sales in the Adult Paperback category below show the strongest and weakest months:

August: $152.7 million (2009)
December: $132.8 million (2008)
June: $132.6 million (2009)
September: $132.4 million (2009)
July: $124.0 million (2009)
April: $114.8 million (2009)
May: $113.2 million (2009)
January: $102.0 million (2009)
November: $95.4 million (2008)
October: $95.0 million (2008)
March: $89.1 million (2009)
February: $79.7 million (2009)

The poster child for success in U.S. book sales is the E-Book category, which is up 176.1 percent in 2009. Still, E-Books only represent a small portion of the book marketplace, accounting for 0.6 percent of consumer book purchases in 2008 and 2.4 percent of purchases in the first quarter of 2009, according to Publisher’s Weekly. This category is one to watch. On the other end of the spectrum, Audio Books are struggling with a decrease in sales of 21.2 percent so far in 2009. It will be interesting to see where this category goes as well.


  1. Andy,
    Since you honored my request to join iFOGO, I figured I should stop by to check out your blog.
    I decided to comment on this post because of the post includes a reference to EBooks.
    I now have all my books in Ebook format and I am surprised to find I am selling more Ebooks on Amazon than I am selling the paperback version on Amazon. The profit is about the same, so I sure don't have a problem with that.
    I'm not all that surprised the vampire books (The Dancing Valkyrie and The Vampire Valkyrie) sell as EBooks but I am a bit surprised to see Adirondack Hikes in Hamilton County also being sold as an EBook.

  2. Pete:

    That's great news. Thanks for the comments and good luck with the eBooks. I've decided not to publish my books as eBooks yet but may change my mind. I just don't know that much about it yet.