Freelance writers, book authors, and creators of information products should pay attention to book sales. The data for both print books and e-books tells us what consumers are paying for and gives indications of future trends, trends we can take advantage of.
2010 Sales Figures for Books and E-books
The Association of American Publishers provides monthly statistics on sales figures. The latest report includes information for all of 2010. Here’s the AAP press release:
AAP Publishers Report Strong Growth in Year-to-Year, Year-End Book Sales
$11.67 Billion Sales Mark +3.6 Percent Increase vs Calendar Year 2009,
December Sales Rise +2.4 Percent;
E-book Sales Continue to Break Records with +164.4 Percent Gains for 2010
New York, NY, February 16, 2011— US publishers’ book sales across all platforms increased +2.4 percent in December 2010 vs December 2009 and +3.6 percent for the full year vs 2009, it was reported today by the Association of American Publishers (AAP).
Virtually every book publishing category showed growth in one or both comparisons, with the phenomenal popularity of E-books continuing.
“As more formats have evolved and are served by the publishing community, consumers have more choices. These strong sales numbers reflect the efforts of AAP publishers and the response of book audiences,” said Tom Allen, President and CEO, AAP.
Among the highlights*:
• Total sales for December 2010 were strong, showing a +2.4 percent gain vs December 2009 ($1.58 Billion vs $1.54B).
• Total sales for calendar year 2010 also jumped +3.6 percent vs calendar year 2009 ($11.67B vs $11.25B)
• E-books grew a dramatic +164.8 percent in December 2010 vs the previous year ($49.5 Million vs $18.7M). In the AAP’s ninth year of tracking this category, E-books once again increased significantly on an annual basis, up +164.4 percent for 2010 vs 2009 ($441.3M vs $166.9M). E-book sales represented 8.32 percent of the trade book market in 2010 vs 3.20 percent the previous year. A chart tracking nine years of E-book sales is included below.
• Books on other digital platforms also experienced healthy sales growth. For December 2010, Downloaded Audio Books increased +56.7 percent to $8.9M and Physical Audio Books increased +34.5 percent to $15.8M. For the calendar year, Downloaded Audio Books sales rose by +38.8 percent to $81.9M (vs $59.0M in 2009), while Physical Audio Books fell 6.3 percent, at $137.3M for 2010 vs $146.5M for the previous year.
• Children’s book categories saw higher sales in December 2010 vs the year before: Children’s/Young Adults Paperbacks were up +4.5 percent (to $48.9M) and Hardcover Children’s/Young Adults grew +0.2 percent (to $59.7M). Year vs year sales of children’s books fell somewhat; the former decreased 5.7 percent (to $546.6M) and the latter declined 9.5 percent (to $694.3M).
• All three Adult book categories also showed gains vs December 2009: Adult Hardcover was up +23.1 percent (to $148.2M), Adult Paperback grew by +4.5 percent (to $127.6M) and Adult Mass Market rose by +14.6 percent (to $57.1M). The categories fell slightly for 2010 vs calendar year 2009 with Hardbacks sales at $1.57B vs $1.65B in 2009 (-5.1 percent); Paperbacks reaching $1.38B vs $1.41B in 2009 (-2.0 percent) and Mass Market at $673.5M for 2010 vs $718.9M (-6.3 percent).
• Educational book sales saw full year-to-year increases: Higher Education grew +7.8 percent in 2010 (to $4.58B) and K-12 Elementary/High School posted a +3.2 percent gain (to $3.59B). K-12 El/Hi also hit a +1.4 percent increase for December 2010 (to $147.0M) while Higher Education reached $890.2M for December (-3.6 percent).
• Sales of University Press Hardcover books decreased 8.2 percent in December (to $6.0M) with a 0.5 percent decline for 2010 ($57.8M). University Press Paperbacks grew for 2010 by +1.3 percent (to $61.6M) and fell 2.5 percent for December ($8.9M).
• Professional books sales increased +5.0 percent for 2010 over 2009 (to $812.9M); for December, they fell 3.5 percent (to $108.9M).
• Religious Books showed 0.5 percent decline for 2010 vs 2009 (at $585.4M) and -11.8 percent for December ($49.9M).
*All figures cited above are domestic net sales.
Analyzing the 2010 Book and E-Book Sales Data
The Print Book Isn’t Dead
Note that total sales of print books for 2010 was approximately the same as sales for 2009 when sales of e-books are subtracted. This shows that there is still strong demand for physical books.
E-Books Sales Show Strong Growth
Sales increased 164% to $441.3 million year over year. That’s a lot of money, and it shows that there’s potential for authors to make serious cash from e-book sales. And note that these figures are for sales from mainstream textbook publishers: they don’t take into account all the information product e-books sold by individual entrepreneurs from individual sites. This site and the products I sell are just one example, and there are tens of thousands of other writers selling their own e-books. (Note: see my post on why traditional publishers should pay a 50% royalty on e-books.)
Educational Textbook Sales Are Also Strong
I’m a freelance writer who creates supplements and ancillaries for college textbooks, so it’s good news for me and other freelance writers in the same niche. More sales of textbooks means more profits, which means more money to pay us.
What stands out for you in this data? How can you take advantage of these trends? Have you written books? Are you writing a book or an e-book right now? Share!