The Association of American Publishers has released some new sales figures, comparing January 2016 to January 2015. Unsurprisingly, the AAP has found e-book sales significantly decreased over that period, to the tune of a 24.9% drop. This isn’t exactly a huge surprise; as we’ve noted before, AAP figures only cover sales by major publishers, which means they don’t track independent e-book sales.
But independent book sales would probably be hard-put to explain the decline in hardcover book sales, which were down by 18.7%. Most self-pub books are electronic only, after all—unless we posit that cheap self-pub e-book titles are taking up readers’ limited reading time to the point where they simply don’t want to spend more money even on expensive hardcovers. But paperback books seem to be holding steady, or even growing slightly—the AAP reports they’re up 4.3%—so perhaps their lower price is sufficient to draw people back to the fold. (Or perhaps it’s because all those adult coloring books are published in paperback form as well?)
Digital audio grew by 30.1%—again not surprising, given that Amazon has nearly as much of a lock on digital audio as it does on e-books, and it loves to promote the stuff it sells.
The rest of the stats are by and large unsurprising. Publishers’ book sales and trade book sales were both down; educational materials up slightly, and professional publishing down by almost 20%. Is there a big market for self-published professional books—business, medical, law, scientific, technical books/journals? Or might the backlash against Elsevier, and the widespread copyright violation by those who consider academic journals too expensive, have something to do with it?
In any event, this is another one of those statistical reports that help contribute to the rampant confusion about what’s really going on in the e-book market lately. Even though the AAP reports don’t include self-publishing sales activity, the Codex Group believes that e-book sales are declining overall even when you take that into account.
But leaving all that aside, these figures are useful for charting exactly how much damage publishers are doing to themselves by using agency pricing to inflate their e-book prices beyond all reason. But if they continue along that path regardless, then clearly they’ve decided that degree of market-share decline is a price they’re willing to pay.
(Found via Digital Book World.)