eBook sales reported by 15 companies to the AAP comprised $73.4 million for May, and accounted for 18.5 percent of all net trade sales for the month, consistent with the prior two months. eBooks were the second-largest trade format again, behind trade paperbacks.
Between the rise of ebooks and the decline of Borders, overall trade sales suffered their biggest monthly drop so far this year, though, with the steepest falls in adult hardcover and adult mass markets. Down $52.9 million even with the gain in ebooks, overall trade sales of $398.3 declined almost 12 percent in the month. Here are the monthly totals for your reference:
May $73.4 million 18.5 percent
April $72.8 million 19 percent
March $69 million 17 percent
February $90.3 million 29.5 percent
January $69.9 million 23.5 percent
Change in overall AAP trade sales, including ebooks:
January (-$17.4 million)
February (-$33.1 million)
March +$21 million
April (-$44 million)
May (-$52.9 million)
And here are the always-important, ever-growing disclaimers. We report these numbers differently from other folks. The calculations of trade totals and ebooks as a percentage of the trade are our own formula. People taking a quick look at the AAP’s chart will tell you 22 publishers reported ebook sales. But that counts Macmillan imprints 8 times. (Also, Macmillan add imprints including Feiwel and Friends and Picador this month, but still doesn’t report for such lines as Holt or Palgrave.) We call it 15 companies.
These lists change every month, so direct month-to-month or year-over-year comparisons will not be accurate. This month they added results for Columbia University Press, and at the beginning of 2011 they added Scholastic and Workman.
Also interfering with comparisons is business model changes. In March of this year, Random House changed to the agency model, which likely reduced their reported ebook sales.
Finally, though all of us like to calculate ebooks as a percentage of overall sales, that’s illusory as well. More publishers report print sales to the AAP than report ebook sales. Both are small datasets that do not cover the entire industry (though they do include the “big six.”) And ebook sales figures are reflecting *consumer* sales, while the print sales reflect shipments into the supply chain and returns, so those do not align either.
You have been warned!
The good news is that the new BookStats from the AAP and BISG will be introduced in August, which will provide a more comprehensive picture and comparison for 2010 at least.
For the record, reporting ebook publishers now comprise: Brookings; Columbia University Press; parts of Macmillan (which continues to add imprints, just incorporating Feiwel and Friends, Picador and First Second, but does not report units like Holt yet); Hachette; Harlequin; HarperCollins; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Wiley; Johns Hopkins University Press; Oxford University Press; Penguin Group; Random House; Scholastic; Simon & Schuster; Workman.