The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has released its figures for the month of July. Aside from a bump in hardcover numbers, the same trends we have seen all year are visible: print down and e-books surging.
As always, the AAP figures come with a health warning.
Only a very limited number of houses report, and you should hesitate before drawing hard-and-fast conclusions, especially with regard to the raw revenue numbers.
However, it’s useful to look at the trends, which are confirmed by more comprehensive sources. The figures in the table below are in millions of dollars.
|JULY 2010||JULY 2011||CHANGE|
|Adult Trade Paperback||109.4||77.5||-29.2%|
|Adult Mass Market PB||60.6||43.1||-29.0%|
AAP figures, courtesy of eBookNewser. Unfortunately, they don’t mention Children’s/YA numbers this month, and for the last couple of months the AAP seem to have stopped posting the press releases on their website.
Mass market paperback has been in decline all year and it seems to be generally accepted that those readers are in the process of switching to e-books.
Up until the last couple of months, trade paperback had been in reasonable health, but the last two months have shown a huge dip. If that persists, that will be extremely worrying for publishers.
I wouldn’t get too excited about the hardback bounce. Often these monthly figures can show a bump or a dip for one month before resuming the usual trajectory. In this case, an unusually poor month in July 2010 for hardcover seems to be giving the false impression of a big increase here.
In any event, these things tend to flatten out when you take a longer view. On that note, here are the cumulative numbers for the first seven months of 2011 contrasted against the same period of 2010 (with the same provisos as above, and figures in millions of dollars):
|Adult Trade Paperback||819.5||651.4||-20.5%|
|Adult Mass Market PB||385.9||275.5||-28.6%|
AAP figures, courtesy of GalleyCat.
As usual, these numbers don’t include sales from most smaller houses, many of whom will have a large percentage of digital sales.
Also, they don’t include self-publishers, who have been regularly taking between a third and a quarter of the top-selling e-books on Amazon since they broke out the indie bestseller list a couple of months ago. Right now, for example, indies hold 100 of the top 366 spots in the Kindle Store (which includes games, newspapers, and magazines too).
I wish I had harder numbers for self-publishers, but I don’t think they exist. The major retailers, such as Amazon, don’t share that information. In any event, it wouldn’t capture all the sales that self-publishers make, e.g. through their own websites.
If anyone is aware of any recent, solid attempt to estimate the size of the self-publishing market, I would love to see it.
Because of the lack of information from self-publishing, the AAP figures will always underplay what percentage of the market that e-books have grabbed (which is impossible to calculate this month anyway without the Children’s/YA numbers).
Even so, the trends are clear. Print is plummeting in all categories, which should be no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, and e-books continue their spectacular boom.
Digital sales have more than doubled on the same period in 2010, and are not far off being the top-selling format (in dollar terms) for the year to date.