Book Industry Grows in 2014

Result of Annual AAP StatShot Survey

Online retail book sales and subscription book sales both grew in 2014. Getty Images

The book and journal publishing industry net revenue grew by 4.6% in 2014 to $28 billion, according to annual survey results released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The dollar figures represent a volume of 2.7 billion units.

The growth over 2013 sales was driven by the categories of children's books, young adult (YA) books, and audiobooks, as well as continued growth in the ebooks.

Trade Book Category Growth

According to the AAP's StatShot, which measures revenue from all channels, the industry’s growth was largely due to a 4.2% increase year-over-year Trade (consumer book) revenues, which were $15.43 billion in 2014, compared to $14.81 billion in 2013.

Children's and Young Adult

In turn, the Trade growth was driven by the Children's and Young Adult categories. Combined, these grew 20.9% in revenue and 13.5% in units. Children's fiction represented 843 million units, 438 million in paperback and 240 million units in hardcover, formats that outpaced ebooks and downloaded audiobooks, which contributed to the 2014 unit growth. Young Adult fiction sold 746 million units.

Growth for All Book Formats

Sales of paperbacks, ebooks, and hardcovers all grew this year.

Sales of the most popular format, paperbacks, numbered 942 million in 2014 compared to a mere 882 units in 2013. Paperback sales dollars topped $4.84 billion, showing significant growth over the $4.42 billion in sales in 2013.

After a slight decline in 2013 over 2012, eBook revenue grew 3.8% in 2014 to an estimated $3.37 billion dollars, though the volume increased a mere .2% to  510-plus million units. Sales of hardcover units numbered 568 million in 2014.

Audiobook Market Continues Its Growth in 2014

As has also been noted by the Audio Publishers Association, the market for downloaded audiobooks continues it's year over year growth pattern, in the double digits for 2014 over 2013 in both revenue (26.8%) and units (27%), for a total of 48 million units in 2014.

The growth in downloaded audiobooks by far overshadowed the slight decline in sales of physical audiobooks.

Subscription Services Tracked

For the first time, StatShot tracked audiobook and ebook subscription services. Though not all publishers make their books available to ebook or audiobook subscription services, the survey tracked data from about twenty publishers who do make available some or all of their lists through this distribution channel. Approximately 3.88 million subscription audiobooks were sold in 2014 outpacing the 2.47-plus million ebook units.

According to the AAP Vice President Tina Jordan, “Subscription services and other innovations provide publishers with new forums for proving quality content to readers how and when they want. Their passion for doing this helps frame everything from a child’s first stories, to the texts used in schools around the states, to articles reporting on breakthrough research, and your favorite work of fiction.”

And the Top Retail Channel Is

Online retail held steady as the top sales channel for Trade books —approximately 832 million units moved through this channel resulting in about 5.9 billion dollars in revenue.

And while online retailing predominated and "subscription services and other innovations" are growing in importance, after years of decline in 2014 physical retail stores saw an increase of 3.2% in trade revenue over 2013 ($3.80 billion in 2014 up from $3.68 billion in 2013.

This represents a 4.1% increase in trade units — 577 million in 2014 from 554 million in 2013.

About the AAP Survey

The AAP StatShot statistics were compiled from the sales data of nearly 1800 publishers in the United States and from estimates from publishers who do not participate in the survey (these figures are from the publishers, rather than retailer sales figures). The markets covered by the survey includes trade books (that is, books for consumers); academic and schoolbooks (K-12 instructional materials, higher education course materials, and offerings from university presses); and professional books (legal, medical, etc).

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