The American Association of Publisher (AAP) recently released a report of the 2014 book market based on data reported from 1,800 participating U.S. publishers. Total 2014 net revenue for books and journals in the U.S. rose 4.6%, to $27.9 billion, while trade book revenue in 2014 rose 4.2%, to $15.4 billion, according to StatShot Annual, AAP’s yearly statistical survey of publishing’s estimated size and scope.
The term “trade book” refers to the following types of books: paperback, hardback, mass market, board books, ebooks, and audiobooks (both physical and downloadable)—basically most types of books sold.
Key elements from the survey include:
- 2,421,896,606 trade books were sold in 2014. That is 76,510,171 more books than were sold in 2013. That is a lot of books! Children’s and Young Adult titles experienced the greatest amount of growth.
- After years of decline, physical retail stores saw an increase of 3.2% in revenue and 4.1% in units sold in the trade category.
- Online retail remained the top sales channel for customers in the trade category, selling 832 million units and providing $5.90 billion in revenue.
- After slightly declining in 2013, ebooks experienced 3.8% revenue growth to an estimated $3.37 billion dollars. It’s worth noting that though the volume increased only slightly (0.2%), over 510 million ebooks were sold in 2014. That’s nearly on-par with the number of hardbacks (568 million) sold in 2014. This number doesn’t account for ebooks consumed through subscription services.
- For the first time, the new survey also tracks revenue from subscription platforms. That segment of the market remains small, but subscription audio titles are so far besting ebooks. Among the twenty publishers reporting revenue from subscription services, some 3.88 million audiobooks and 2.47 million ebooks were distributed via those platforms.
Book sales both units and revenue slumped in 2013. While the unit sales figures for 2014 were not yet back up to the 2012 figures (2,474,995,518 books sold generating $15.7 billion in net revenue), the increase is good news for the book publishing industry.
People are buying books—lots of them. That is good news.