US publishing revenues dip 4.2% in first half of 2020

US publishing revenues dip 4.2% in first half of 2020

The US publishing industry’s revenues are down 4.2% for the year to date, according to the Association of American Publishers' latest StatShot report, although Trade sales in the six-month period held on with a rise of almost 3% compared to the first half of 2019.

Total revenues across all categories (including Trade, K-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses) for June 2020 were approximately $1.4bn, a decline of 4.1% compared to June 2019, while year-to-date sales were $5.7bn, a decline of 4.2% compared to the same period last year.

However, separating Trade sales out, the category is up 24.4% for June, coming in at $700.3m. For the year-to-date (January–June 2020) Trade sales were $3.6bn, an increase of 2.8%, compared to the same period in 2019. 

For June, Paperback sales were up 22.9%, to $248m in revenue, Hardback revenues leapt 35.2%, to $227.6m, and Board Books were bolstered by 41.7%, to $12.1m. On a year-to-date basis, this levelled out with Paperbacks on $1.2bn, up 1.6%; Hardback revenues coming in at $1.2bn, down 0.8%; and the Mass Market dipping 2.7% to $108.9m, compared to the first six months of 2019.

Digital revenues continue to be particularly strong, however, with sales of e-books up 39% in June, taking $110.3m during the month, and up 12.7% for the year-to-date, reaching $544.5m for the first six months of 2020. The Children’s and YA category was especially successful, with e-book sales jumping 132.5% for the month and 62.4% for the first six months of the year. Meanwhile audio downloads increased 6.2% in June, to $54.1m, and 14.1% for the year-to-date, to $316.6m.

Education is having a tougher time. Year-to-date Education revenues were down 15.9%, coming in at $1.9bn. Revenues from Higher Education Course Materials in June were down 9.7% ($176.7m) and PreK-12 Instructional Materials revenues were down 29.7% ($419.8m). For the first six months of the year, Higher Education Course Materials were up 4.8% ($951.3m) but PreK-12 Instructional Materials dropped 30.3% ($909.4m).

Professional Books, including business, medical, law, technical and scientific, also declined, by 12.4% during the month ($63.1m) and by 5.8% for the first half of the year ($257.3m).  

University Presses dipped 3.5% year to date ($21.7m) although revenues were up 29.4% for the month of June ($4.9m).

Religious Press revenues were up 50% in June ($51.8m), but roughly flat on a year-to-date basis (0.6% down at $311.4m).

The StatShot measures publisher net revenue, including sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer sales and to online retailers. It is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes revenue from about 1,360 publishers.