After strong reports for June and July, AAP-reported book sales fell sharply in August, on a comparable basis. Total sales of $544.4 million were about even with July’s shipments, but they were well below sales of $604.2 million for the same month in 2014, down 10 percent. (August is traditionally the kickoff month for shipping in fall books.) The current report is more in line with August sales from 2013 (at $549 million), and we note that the comparison is exaggerated since the AAP has revised upwards the historical August 2014 sales — which were reported as $585 million initially a year ago.
The biggest gap came from adult hardcovers: At $88 million, they were down 29 percent from last year’s sales of $123 million. Adult trade paperbacks remained strong, as they have all year, registering $135 million, up $7 million from a year ago. Total adult sales were $396.7 million for the month, compared to a restated $447.4 million a year ago.
The same pattern held for children’s and YA books, with hardcover sales of $68 million down 16 percent, and trade paperback sales of $50.5 million up $7 million, or 16.5 percent. Total children’s sales were $147.7 million for the month, compared to a restated $156.8 million a year ago.
The closely-watched ebook sales categories also followed their pattern for the year. Adult ebook sales were down modestly, at $107 million down less than 4 percent (or $4.2 million) compared to a year ago. (That comp is revised as well; a year ago, August 2014 adult ebook sales were counted as $107 million.) Children’s ebook sales were down more significantly — as they have been all year without new crossover YA hits — at $10.3 million, down $7.8 million compared to a year ago.
So overall ebook sales were down 9 percent for the month — though in a soft month of shipments, ebooks still comprised 23.75 percent of sales. For the year through August, adult ebook sales are down 4.5 percent (or $40 million), while children’s/YA ebook sales are down much more, 44.5 percent (or $76 million).