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Publisher Sales $2.14 Billion in the First Quarter of 2016, Decline 2.7% Year-Over-Year

StatShot data from the Association of American Publishers show that audiobooks and paperbacks remain popular, as eBooks continue their decline

Washington, DC; September 20, 2016 – Publishers’ revenues were down 3.0% in March 2016, and 2.7% for the first quarter of 2016 vs. the same timeframes in 2015. Trade books declined 7.4% in the first quarter due to declines in the largest categories, Adult Books (-10.3%) and Childrens/YA (-2.1%).

With the trade category down, the decline in eBooks was pronounced - down 21.4% for March and 21.8% year-over-year.


  • Publishers’ book sales for March 2016 were $501.8 million, down 3.0% from March 2015. These numbers include sales for all tracked categories (Trade - fiction/non-fiction/religious, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses.)
    • For the first quarter of the year, sales were down 2.7% to $2.14 billion vs. the same three months in 2015.
  • Trade (consumer) books sales were $458.7 million in March 2016, down 5.6% from March 2015. This includes Childrens/YA Books, Adult Books and Religious Books.
  • In the first quarter of 2016, compared to the first quarter of 2015:
    • Trade sales were down 7.4% to $1.37 billion
    • Adult Books had $941.3 million in sales, down 10.3%
    • Childrens/YA Books had $320.5 million in sales, down 2.1%
    • Religious Presses had $105.9 million in sales, up by 5.8%

Trends for Trade by Format

  • In the first quarter 2016 vs. the first quarter 2015:
    • Paperback books grew 6.1%
    • Downloaded audio grew 35.3%
    • Hardback books declined 8.5%
    • eBooks were down 21.8%

Educational Materials and Professional Books

  • Educational Materials had gains of 8.6% for K-12 Instructional Materials and 20.3% for Higher Education Course Materials, in the first quarter of. 2016 vs the first three months of 2015. Though not as dramatic as Feb., both sectors saw gains in March, a lower volume month for sales.
  • Professional Publishing was down 24.4% in the first quarter of. 2016 vs the first three months of 2015. These categories include business, medical, law, scientific and technical books. University presses were down 4.6%.

About StatShot

Publisher net revenue is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes sales data from more than 1,200 publishers (#AAPStats). Figures represent publishers’ net revenue for the U.S. (i.e. what publishers sell to bookstores, direct to consumer, online venues, etc.), and are not retailer/consumer sales figures.