March 17, 2018

New Statistics Model for Book Industry Shows Trade Ebook Sales Grew Over 1,000 Percent

By Michael Kelley, August 8, 2011

A new annual survey of the total U.S. book publishing industry released today shows growing revenue and, even without numbers from 2011, exponential ebook sales.

The industry sold 2.57 billion books in all formats in 2010, a 4.1 percent increase over 2008, and publishers’ net sales revenue grew to $27.94 billion in 2010, a 5.6 percent increase over 2008. Net revenue from trade books grew 5.8 percent since 2008, to $13.94 billion.

The new report, BookStats, is a collaboration between the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), which decided in 2010 to end their individual reports and instead partner to develop a new joint industry statistics model. This first report covers the years 2008-10.

The report shows that adult fiction sales remained strong and grew over all three years, with net sales revenue up 9.7 percent and net unit sales up 3.5 percent; trade juvenile titles showed a strong 12.1 percent increase in net unit sales with a 7.1 percent increase in net sales revenue.

“The BookStats study indicates that the publishing industry is healthy and growing during a time of unprecedented change,” said Dominique Raccah, the founder and CEO of Illinois-based publisher Sourcebooks and the chair of the BookStats committee, in a press release. “Publishers in every sector of our business have made significant investments in content and technology to better serve their audiences’ needs, and those efforts seem to correlate with the results we’re seeing,” she said

Within the trade segment, ebooks, again excluding the robust growth that has occurred in 2011, grew from 0.6 percent of the total trade market share in 2008 to 6.4 percent in 2010, which translates to a 1,274.1 percent increase in publisher net sales revenue year-over-year, with total net revenue for 2010 at $878 million.

In the same three years, 114 million ebooks were sold, a 1,039.6 percent increase. In adult fiction, ebooks represent 13.6 percent of the net revenue market share.

Similarly, online sales became an increasingly important distribution channel. Net sales revenue for content distributed online was $2.82 billion in 2010, a three-year overall growth of 55.2 percent. Net unit sales by publishers to online channels grew 68.6 percent, to 276 million in 2010.

For 2010, overall bricks-and-mortar trade retail remained the largest distribution channel in the United States (40.8 percent).

In contrast to the ebook numbers, total net sales revenue of trade hardcovers in 2010 was $5.26 billion, an increase of only 0.9 percent over the three years, and its share of the market declined from 39.6 percent in 2008 to 37.7 percent in 2010. Softcover revenue was up 1.2 percent to $5.27 billion, with a similar decline in market share, and mass-market paperback net sales revenue was down 13.8 percent to $1.28 billion.

The higher education segment produced some of the strongest results, with a 23.1 percent increase in net sales revenue. Net revenue in 2010 was $4.55 billion.

In the K-12 school category, net sales revenue was $5.5 billion in 2010. Over the three years, the category’s net sales declined 6.2 percent. .

The professional market’s $3.7 billion net revenue was 6.3 percent higher than in 2008, and scholarly publishing had a 4.7 percent growth since 2008, with $191 million in net revenue for 2010.

The report is based on data from 1,963 publishers, including the six largest trade publishers. It encompassed trade, K-12 school, higher education, professional, and scholarly books. Bowker was the data collection provider. Data was analyzed by categories, by formats, and by distribution channels.