From Publishing Perspectives:
In its StatShot report released this morning (May 27), the Association of American Publishers (AAP) for March 2022, released for publication today (May 27), trade revenues are seen falling 6.4 percent, but are up 2.0 percent, year-to-date.
March trade revenues across all other categories came to US$804.4 million, which is down 4.2 percent from the figure for March 2021. Year-to-date revenues up that slight 2.2 percent, came in at $3.0 billion for Q1. As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the AAP’s numbers reflect reported revenue for tracked categories including trade (consumer books); K-12 instructional materials; higher education course materials; professional publishing; and university presses.
That step back of 6.4 percent translates to $702.5 million. And what to watch for is just below: Look at this big drop in hardback sales from last year’s March figures.
In print formats:
- Hardback revenues were down 19 percent, coming in at $238.1 million
- Paperbacks were up 8.6 percent, at $266.0 million in revenue
- Mass market was down 30.7 percent to $14.3 million
- Special bindings were down 17.6 percent, with $12.7 million in revenue
Paper formats, according to a note from the association’s team, “still account for 75.6 percent of all trade sales. And–as was discussed in an audiobook and podcast panel Publishing Perspectives moderated this month at the Jerusalem International Book Fair, a part of what’s reflected in that paper-formats observation may have to do with the fact that downloadable audio—so loudly praised for its gains on the market—in March came in at 9.0 percent of the overall trade, trailing ebooks at 10.9 percent. (See the graphic to the right.)
In digital formats:
- Ebook revenues were down 12.2 percent for the month as compared to March 2021 for a total of $76.9 million
- Downloaded audio was up 8.4 percent for March, at $63.5 in revenue
- Physical audio was down 20.1 percent, at $1.3 million
- Year-to-date, the industry’s trade revenues were up 2.0 percent, at $2.1 billion for the first three months of the year.
In print formats:
- Hardback revenues were down 3.0 percent, coming in at $740.6 million
- Paperbacks were up 14.6 percent, with $763.5 million in revenue
- Mass market was down 20.1 percent to $49.4 million
- Special bindings were down 3.1 percent, with $43.6 million in revenue
In digital formats:
- Ebook revenues were down 9.8 percent as compared to the first three months of 2021 for a total of $249.3 million
- The downloaded audio format was up 2.7 percent, coming in at $194.5 million in revenue
- Physical audio was down 23.4 percent coming in at $3.7 million
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives
PG notes that the report only covers revenues generated by traditional publishers and likely does not include more than a few small and mid-sized traditional publishers. Plus, to the best of PG’s knowledge, publishers report on the honor system and the AAP doesn’t perform any sort of checks or audits on the financial information they receive.
He will also note that, due to the right that many traditional bookstores have to return unsold hard copy books to the publisher for full credit/refunds, big purchases of books by bookstores of all sizes in December may generate large returns in January or February, adversely impacting publisher financial performance for the first calendar quarter of the year.
Additionally, to the best of PG’s knowledge, Amazon doesn’t disclose its sales of KDP ebooks and POD to any third parties, nor is he aware that Amazon Publishing shares its sales outside the company.
PG suspects that traditional publishers that are either publicly owned or are subsidiaries of larger companies which are publicly owned provide accurate numbers due to potential claims for fraudulent disclosures under the laws and rules governing what publicly owned companies must disclose and the penalties for knowingly disclosing incorrect information about the company’s sales, etc.
Here’s an excerpt from the AAP’s description of how it gathers information underlying its reports:
“We’ll excerpt here from the proverbial fine print provided on methodology for this report. We’ve edited only slightly, to minimize promotional language and to do away with a few gratuitous institutional capitalizations.
“AAP StatShot reports the monthly and yearly net revenue of publishing houses from US sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, and other channels.
“The pool of StatShot participants may fluctuate from report to report [this month’s report coming from some 1,366 publishers]
“Like any business, it’s common accounting practice for publishing houses to update and restate their previously reported revenue data.
“If, for example, a business learns that its revenues were greater in a given year than its reports first indicated, it will restate the revenues in subsequent reports to AAP, permitting AAP in turn to report information that’s more accurate than before.”