The AAP (Association of American Publishers) reports monthly (StatShot) and annual sales statistics for publishers' sales, based on data supplied to them by approximately 1,200 publishers. This pool includes all of the largest trade publishers, as well as publishers represented by all of the largest distribution groups.
They have maintained this reporting pool since the beginning of 2012 -- when they significantly expanded their roster of reporting publishers. (Prior to that only a very small set of publishers reported comprehensive data, including ebooks.) The 2012 monthly reports also featured restated 2011 data drawn from the expanded pool for historical comparison. Which means we have good, consistent data on the size of the business dating back to 2011, but anything prior to that is not comprehensive enough for adequate comparisons.
A similar timeline applies to BookStats, a joint project between the AAP and the BISG (Book Industry Study Group) covering 2008 through 2013. (Book Stats was introduced in 2011, presenting data for 2010 -- but in that first year of data collection, they backfilled for 2009 and 2008 as well, to provide a basis for comparison.) These annual statistics are based on raw data from a somewhat larger pool of about 1,600 publishers -- but those numbers are used as the basis of "models" or "estimates" of the entire business, incorporate publishers who never report data. (In other words, sophisticated methodology is used to essentially double the real trade numbers to create the "estimates.") The BISG has withdrawn from the project, and both the AAP and BISG are evaluating how they will approach annual publishing industry data going forward.
Overall trade sales finished at $6.652 billion -- up $52 million compared to newly revised counts for a year ago, a gain of about three-quarters of one percent. (But when 2014 sales were originally reported, they were put at $6.631 billion or just ahead of the current 2015 count.) Print book sales as tracked by Nielsen Bookscan grew by 17.6 million units in 2015, or a modest 2.8 percent, moving over 652 million units in all.
Declining ebook sales were among the year's big stores. Adult ebook sales had held up reasonably well through September (when Penguin Random House returned to full agency) and then fell off significantly -- dropping $78 million in the last three months of 2015. For the full year, adult ebook sales of $1.188 billion were down $124 million, while children's ebook sales of $129 million were down $98.5 million. Digital audio -- tracked only in the adult category -- finished the year at $205.6 million, up significantly from $148 million in 2014.
Total adult sales for 2015 were $4.944 million, up $108 million (or 2 percent), driven by a $205 million gain in trade paperbacks. Children's/YA sales of $1.708 million for the year were down $56.5 million (or 3 percent).
We took a deeper look at ebook and other sales trends from over the past 5 years in this piece, Numbers In Context: AAP Trends.
- December/Full Year
December/Full Year report
Total trade sales of $6.631 billion are up $258 million (or 4 percent) from $6.373 billion a year ago -- due entirely to strong children's/YA sales, which rose $325 million. Adult sales were down 1.5 percent for the year, due almost entirely to weak hardcover/frontlist sales; they fell more than 8 percent from $1.520 billion in 2013 to $1.395 billion in 2014, a decline of $125 million.
Total ebook sales of $1.519 billion grew almost 5 percent, or $70 million, up from $1.449 billion in 2013. Adult ebooks were up slightly, with most of the gains coming from children's/YA ebook sales, which totaled $227 million for the year. eBooks comprised 23 percent of all reported sales for the year, accounting for 27 percent of adult sales and 12 percent of children's/YA sales. (In 2013, ebooks comprised 21 percent of AAP trade sales in all, and in 2012 they were 23 percent.)
Some of the largest growth on a percentage basis came from downloadable audiobooks. Adult digital audio was $162 million, rising 27 percent or $34.6 million, while physical audio sales fell only $6 million to $70 million for the year. (Children's/YA audio is not big enough to be reported separately.)
|Month||Adult Sales||Change vs. 2013||Children's/YA Sales||Change vs. 2013||eBook Sales||Change vs. 2013|
|January||$362 million||+$10 million||$144 million||+$44 million||$137 million||+$15.5 million|
|February||$325 million||+$6 million||$137 million||+$35 million||$139 million||+$5.5 million|
|March||$316.5 million||-$23.5 million||$133 million||+$22 million||$108.5 million||-$7.5 million|
|April||$363 million||-$20 million||$128 million||+$24 million||$138.5 million||+$19.5 million|
|May||$371 million||-$37 million||$154 million||+$39 million||$120 million||+$3 million|
|June||$367.5 million||-$3 million||$129 million||+$18.5 million||$129 million||+$11 million|
|July||$367 million||+$13 million||$133 million||+$15 million||$127 million||+$6.5 million|
|August||$415 million||+$8 million||$179 million||+$29 million||$124.5 million||+$2.5 million|
|September||$435 million||-$58.5 million||$183 million||+$15 million||$123 million||+$4 million|
|October||$537.1 million||+$52.5 million||$220.4 million||+$31.2 million||$120 million||-$1 million|
|November||$441.9 million||-$37.3 million||$190.6 million||+$23.6 million||$116 million||-$5.6 million|
|December||$432.1 million||+$35.5 million||$159 million||+$29.1 million||$133.5 million||+$13.8 million|
|Full Year||$4.744 billion||-$67.7 million||$1.887 billion||+$325 million||$1.519 billion||+$70 million|
|January 2015||$393 million||+$26.7 million||$140.3 million||-$1.6 million||$129.4 million||-$10.9 million|
|February 2015||$305 million||-$24 million||$87 million||-$40 million||$117 million||-$21 million|
|March 2015||$356 million||$38.3 million||$101 million||-$23.8 million||$110 million||-$1.1 million|
|April 2015||$488 million||-$6.5 million||$120 million||-$20.6 million||$120 million||-$20.6 million|
December and full-year report
- June and July
June report | July report
- April and May
April report | May report
- February and March
February report | March report
- Full Year 2013 Stats (Including November and December Reports)
- September and October
- July and August (With 13-Month Table Tracking Comparative eBook Decline)
- May and June
- March and February
Charting the Slowdown In eBook Growth (9/12)
2011 Trade Sales Fell Slightly In New BookStats Figures, As eBooks Near $2 Billion and Comprise 31 Percent of Adult Fiction
2011 Export Sales Report