The AAP released catch-up Stat Shot statistics from February and March that show overall trade sales declining from one month to the next through the first quarter of 2013, mostly due to the absence of hits to take the place of the Hunger Games trilogy a year ago.
February trade sales (from a pool of almost 1,200 reporting publishers across all sectors) declined 6 percent, to $421 million; March trade sales fell further, by 8.6 percent, to $449 million. (January sales, as previously reported, had been down by just $3 million.) Those comparisons will likely fall again in comparison to April 2012, which reflected the Vintage release of the 50 Shades series.
The AAP trendline should not be a surprise, given Barnes & Noble’s recent quarterly report showing “core” bookstore comps, excluding Nook-related product, declining 5.8 percent for the quarter ending April 27 — which may wind up showing the BN stores outperformed the market. At the same time, they said that digital content sales declined 8.9 percent in the period — which for now looks like an underperformance versus the overall market.
eBook sales also followed their trend of levelling off: February sales of $132 million were up 10.5 percent from a year ago; March sales of $115 million were up only 2.4 percent from 2012. (In January, ebook sales of $124.5 million were up only 1.5 percent from 2012.)
With overall trade softening and ebooks still registering some gains, their share of the total market continues to rise: In March, ebooks comprised 25.5 percent of all trade sales — and 30 percent of adult sales. In February, they accounted for 31.5 percent of the trade, and 36.5 percent of adult sales. For the first quarter, ebooks made up 28.5 percent of all trade sales, and 32.5 percent of adult sales.