Maybe We Need Adult Coloring E-books?

Yesterday the American Association of Publishers released their StatShot Annual survey.

 “Produced by AAP, StatShot Annual estimates the total size of the U.S. publishing industry by collecting sales data in dollars and units from nearly 1,800 active U.S. publishers. Data is collected directly from publishers, with the help of distributors. Estimates are used for publishers who do not participate directly, based on their company financial reports, government filings, BooksinPrint, press releases, third party research services, and other third party sources.”

 A quick summary:

 ·         Overall revenue and units sold are basically flat from 2014—revenue down a bit (0.6%) and units up a bit (0.5%)

·         Trade books increased slightly in both categories

·          It was a tough year in academic publishing, which shrank in both categories and pulled the overall numbers down

·         Adult books sales grew—thank you, coloring books (not that we want you in library collections)

·         Children’s/YA titles declined

·         Hardback and paperback numbers grew

·         E-book sales were down 11.3% and down 9.7% in units sold

·         Downloadable audio grew a whopping 37.6% in sales and 41.1% in units

 All that said, does this report tell the whole story? It certainly covers the sources of most library content (the 1,800 publishers). What would print look like if we took coloring books completely out? It leaves out the self-published e-book market. This market is growing, in part because publishers’ agency pricing puts many e-books beyond the “sweet spot” price that might attract more sales. See here for a study that (though it has limits in methodology, being based only on Amazon sales) tries to paint a fuller picture of the e-book market.

Library eBooks circ still seems to be growing (up around 15% in an admittedly unscientific ReadersFirst poll conducted earlier this year). Agency pricing is perhaps helping us there. AAP’s current StatShot does point to a trend that RF must increasingly include in our advocacy of a unified and streamlined user experience: downloadable audiobooks are becoming even more important (apps on phones helping?) and probably need to be a factor in future e-content considerations.