July 19, 2012

Book industry alive and kicking, new report reports


Bookstats, a cooperative venture between the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group to crunch book industry data, has announced the release of its annual survey of the publishing industry. And the news is, in the main, good. Here are some of the highlights:

– The book trade market grew very slightly over last year, despite the negative effects of Borders closing, with an increase of 0.5%.

– E-Book sales doubled from 2010 to 2011. The most significant growth was in Adult Fiction, where e-books ranked #1 in net dollars over all other individual print and electronic formats. Total e-book net sales were $2.074 billion, making it 15% of net revenue.

– The fastest growing category in publishing is Children’s and Young Adult (YA) fiction.

– Despite the closing of Borders 500 stores, brick-and-mortar stores remained the #1 sales location, representing 31.5% of all net dollar sales.

– Direct-to-consumer sales by publishers nearly doubled in revenue, and topped $1 billion for the first time—an increase of 58% over last year.

In other words, the publishing industry soldiers on—with some interesting areas of growth, as publishers change and innovate with the times.

A look at the entire US book market—which includes all commercial, entertainment, educational, professional and scholarly markets—shows a slight decline from $27.9 billion in 2010 to $27.2 billion in 2011, a decrease of 2.5%.  But, while overall dollars were down, overall units were up 3.4%—from 2.68 billion books in 2010 to 2.77 billion in 2011.

That’s a lot of books. And a lot of simoleons. Mark Twain‘s quip comes to mind: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”


Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.