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Hardcover and Paperback Sales Down, Ebook Sales Up

28 October 2011

The Association of American Publishers has released sales data for August:

Adult hardcover sales decreased 11 percent in August and adult paperback sales dipped nearly six percent.

Link to the rest at GalleyCat 

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3 Comments to “Hardcover and Paperback Sales Down, Ebook Sales Up”

  1. It seems to me that the numbers are probably skewed. Isn’t e-book production up, as well, while hard copy production is down? How much does that influence the sales numbers, I wonder?

  2. Before anyone freaks out about the dollar amounts, I must give the usual caveat for these numbers.

    This is a limited amount of houses reporting. It’s usually in the region of 15-20 reporting e-data, slightly more reporting hardcover, and up to 80 or so reporting paperback.

    As such, you can pretty much ignore the raw dollar figures, and just look at the year-on-year trends. Those, at least, have been continually confirmed by more comprehensive sources such as the Bookstats report, Nielsen Bookscan (for print) and the limited figures retailers like Amazon release.

    So, that said, the trends we are seeing are the same pattern all year. Print is in freefall, and digital is booming.

    What will be interesting to watch is what level of growth holds up in e-books as we move into the boom time from last year: November.


    There are lots of things that skew these figures. Some months certain houses don’t report, it’s only a limited amount of them etc. etc. On top of that, it’s an apples/oranges comparison as print numbers are for those shipped to bookstores (not sold, and takes zero account of returns). E-books, however, are sales.

    Considering that, the reality is probably a lot worse for print.

    • Good points all, David.

      Individual monthly reports can skew away from reality for that month in all sorts of directions. However, over a period of several months, the trends these reports reflect do become reliable unless everyone misreports in the same way every month.

      As you point out, the print houses report to the AAP while ebook sellers probably don’t.

      I think ebooks are getting ready to take another big upward jump after a zillion Kindles of various sorts are sold around Christmas.

      Since books are sometimes gifts for the hard-to-buy-for family member or friend, what could be cooler than for someone to give Grandma a Kindle and all the other family members to give her ebooks.

      I haven’t seen anything about this, but I suspect Nook will drop hardware prices further.

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