04:59 PM

Trade Publishing in 2016

by Marisa Bluestone, Communications Director

AAP and our members saw new and familiar trends take shape in 2016. Unlike 2015, which was the year of adult coloring books, 2016 had no breakout category. Instead, there were a number of exciting developments which may have the potential to be a breakout category in 2017.

While the full 2016 StatShot data is not in yet, the numbers we’ve seen through July 2016 hint at the year’s successes and challenges in publisher revenue gains. 

Continuing from last year, downloaded audio remains the fastest growing format. While it is a small portion of overall trade revenue, its 31.1% year-to-date growth is significant. Hardback and paperback are also up, while eBooks are still declining.

Some of the most popular books in 2016 were hardback books in play/script/screenplay form. This year saw several best-sellers, including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hamilton, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The success is evident in the July AAP StatShot report, where Children’s/Young Adult hardback books were up a whopping 95.2% vs July 2015, much of that due to sales of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We have seen this kind of boost driven by best-sellers in prior years, and it typically levels out over the long-term.

One interesting trend during this year’s tense political climate was the increase in number of “crash books”. These books from publishers like Melville House disrupt the traditional 12-18-month publishing schedule, and instead turned out books seemingly with the news cycle. While this is not new, it did pick up steam in 2016.

Our members continue to find innovative ways to support literacy and foster a love of reading, and two products in particular embody the trend - Story Play from Scholastic and wearable board books from Capstone. Story Play provides prompts to help parents talk about the story they’re reading to their kids – rather than just reading. Not all parents naturally think to ask “What do you think happens next?” and this tool makes reading an interactive conversation.

It was another good year for books in Hollywood, with several book-to-movie conversions, including Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Me Before You, The Girl on the Train, and Nocturnal Animals to name a few. For their books, Quirk Books worked with select retailers to offer exclusive editions – which offered helpful cross-promotion with the movies.

The popularity of social media celebrities also carries over to books. YouTubers, tweeters and other young internet stars continued to release new books in 2016, including Tanya Bakes, Carrie Hope Fletcher and more. With each celebrity having millions of followers, and from what our members are sharing, this trend does not appear to be slowing down into 2017.

Other 2016 trends we’ve heard from publishers include the creation of more graphic novels for middle grade students – including a new series from Little, Brown & Co. We’re also seeing trends continuing, including psychological suspense novels, the unreliable author – made trendy again by The Girl on the Train – and books that incorporate science fiction.

With these creative ways of engaging readers, interesting plots, and books from celebrities, plays and movies, trade publishers are giving readers the books they never knew they needed; in doing so, they remind us of the important role books play in our lives.

We look forward to telling the full 2016 story with our StatShot annual report in mid-2017, which takes a deep dive into the year’s data and takes a closer look at the trends that influenced the year. This report is a complimentary benefit to AAP members; to get a copy of the latest report email Tina Jordan at tjordan@publishers.org.

To see the July 2016 stats, click here.