E-Books Sales Drop, Audiobooks Sales Increase – AAP Reports March 11, 2019 – Posted in: Blog, Feature – Tags: , ,

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) launched their latest study of 2018 data on earnings for consumer book publishers. The StatShot Monthly report was released on February 11, stating that revenue for three book categories — Children’s/Young Adults, Adult Books, and Religious Presses — saw growth, and the $7.9 billion from 2018 was a 4.6 % boost over 2017.

The most significant rise was in audiobook sales, increased by 37.1%, an additional $127.1 million since 2017. The AAP data states that downloaded audio (as opposed to physical audiobook formats) has been the format with the most growth since 2013. “This is the third successive year that audiobooks saw double-digit growth (+37.1%) and eBook earning decreased (-3.6%),” the AAP report claims.

The AAP states that in 2017, e-books sales completed over 1 billion in sales; however, the sales in 2018 decreased. E-books have been in gradual decline for some time, as reported about last May by Frank Catalano in GeekWire. Past reports of 2017 from AAP and the NPD’s PubTrack Digital from the Independent Book Publishers Association, Frank Catalono stated that the decline two years back, “happened in general publisher revenue setting that AAP said was basically flat in 2017.” Among the people he talked to, Marisa Bluestone, AAP’s senior director of communications, stated that even much more visible decline in 2015. After that, e-book units drop 13% as per Publishers Weekly, before rising again in 2016.

Audiobooks, particularly downloaded ones, have seen a significant increase. Downloaded ones, like those available on e-readers and apps, had the most growth, despite the fact that physical ones had a decline of 21.5% from 2017 to 2018. It’s the third year straight for increasing downloads, and many of that is in the Adult Books category considering that it’s the largest for consumer books. Last summer Publishers Weekly stated that the target market for audiobooks is “54% of audiobook audiences below  the age of 45.” Audiobook’s popularity prove that how people deal with screen exhaustions is usually by consuming the spoken books: “73% of the audience used a smartphone to listen to audiobooks at some point in the year, and 47% of listeners picked a smartphone as their listening device on a routine basis.”

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The AAP report detailed the other kind of consumer books revenue, and all saw increases of some amount. Paperback and mass market books climbed 1.1%; hardback books saw an increase of 6.9%; board books increased 2.5% and Other increase by 8.8%.


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