Book Sales Slipped In 2013 As Publishers Offered Fewer Blockbusters

Book sales in 2013 were so-so — but with a caveat — the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group report today. Total net revenues for books and professional and scholarly journals fell 0.4% to $27.0B, with net units -1.2% to 2.6B, The numbers were drearier if you just look at the trade sector, which includes general consumer fiction and non-fiction, and religion. Net revenues there fell 2.3% to $14.6B, with units -1.7% to 2.3B. But the trade group says the numbers are a little misleading: 2012 “was the strongest year in publishing’s recent history with a series of blockbuster releases” including The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades Of Grey. Last year’s trade revenues were 4.5% higher than 2011 with units +11%.

Adult Non-Fiction was the strongest category in 2013 (revenues +5.4% to $4.7B, units +2.8% to 488.8M). The story for trade sector eBooks was mixed: Sales hit a record in units sold (+10.1%to 512.7M) but revenues slipped (-0.7% to $3.1B) with fewer blockbusters and lower prices generally vs 2012. The revenue numbers represent the amounts that publishers see after returns, discounts, and promotions — not retail prices.

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