March 29, 2012

AAP survey shows encouraging rise in print and digital sales


Mark Twain’s famous quip about the reports of his death being greatly exaggerated can be uttered by the publishing industry with a certain satisfaction this morning, according to an Association of American Publisher‘s press release. As part of their new “Monthly Snapshot” of data surveying the industry, the AAP reports that the “publishing industry had strong January revenue growth in print and ebooks for all audiences.”

Turns out January 2012 was quite a good month for publishing. Drawing from a large sample of publishers, with 1149 delivering their statistics for this monthly report, some of these stats are really stunning. Here are some highlights:

Total Trade net revenue grew by +27.1% vs January 2011. Growth was reflected across Adult, Children’s/Young Adult and Religious categories.

Children’s/Young Adult physical format Hardcover and Paperback both saw strong double-digit growth (68.9% and 61.9% respectively)

AAP’s first monthly data on Children’s/YA eBooks showed a massive +475.1% increase from 2011 to 2012. Some publishers have attributed this to the availability of more options for devices aimed at those demographics as well as a number of popular new releases.

General economic improvement was cited as one of the reasons for the up-swing in sales in both digital and print books, as well as a number of new successful titles launched for both adult and young adult readers. Some publishers also noted that last January saw high returns of print books from the closing Borders chain, which affected their overall growth numbers.

But the strength of this January’s sales goes beyond just counter-balancing the returns of Borders last year. Anybody in publishing who lived through last January will tell you, the entire picture looked pretty bleak. This January’s growth across all formats and categories is what gives one heart.

And that’s no exaggeration.


Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.