US trade publishers saw 4.6% lift in 2018, but education sales fell

US trade publishers saw 4.6% lift in 2018, but education sales fell

American trade publishing saw a 4.6% rise in revenue for 2018 but a decline in educational sales left the market relatively flat, new figures show.

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) StatShot report showed total US trade sales hit $7.49bn last year, an increase of $341.5m on 2017. 

But a fall across educational and scholarly publications meant overall publishing revenue was left at $14.55bn, with a dip of $57m (0.4%) compared to 2017.

The report uses revenue figures from 1,375 publishers in the US and tracked revenue from January to December last year. The AAP releases final figures later in the year combined with a model for publishers that do not report sales.

According to the AAP, adult books, children’s publications and religious presses all had good growth over the 12 months. Adult books saw the biggest boost, up by 5.1% from $4.88bn to $5.13bn in 2018. Children’s and YA books saw a £3.3% revenue rise to $2.11bn.

As with previous years, audio downloads showed the healthiest growth, adding $127.1m in revenue on 2017’s figures to hit $469.3m. In contrast, sales of physical audio took a tumble, declining 21.5% to $45.7m.

Hardback books also saw gains, with an additional $196.8m over the past year – a rise of 6.9%. Ebooks continued to decline, falling by 3.6%.

But educational and scholarly publishing took a hit, with higher education course materials seeing a 7.2% fall from $3.58bn to $3.3bn. Sales of professional books were down 2.7% and pre-K-12 manuals fell by 4.6%.

The report said: “Revenue for education and scholarly publishers declined in 2018 in all categories (Professional Books, PreK-12, University Presses, Higher Education) This is a departure from 2017, when PreK-12 was the only category to decline.”