Thursday, June 11, 2009

April '09 Book Sales: Up and Down

If you're in publishing or want to get published, you might find the following sales information interesting, like I did.

In today's Shelf Awareness newsletter, net sales statistics were reported for April 2009. Now, keep in mind that these are sales figures for only one month, and it is not stipulated what they are compared to (the month prior? same time last year?), but the bottom line is that overall book sales rose in April by more than 3%, though the year to date is down by more than 4%. Still, when you look at how many millions of dollars any rise translates into, it's a reassuring sign to see an increase anywhere.

But let's look at where sales are falling, and where they're rising. Knowing these trends might help writers market their projects to agents and editors--or at least it'll give you some clue as to what still sells in a downturn. In a nutshell, books geared to children/young adults/students was on the rise, while the adult market slipped. (This corroborates what I've heard in the employment sector--when the economy is down and people are losing jobs, many people go back to school or stay in school longer than originally planned.) There were great gains in e-book sales and a sizeable drop in audio books.

Here are some specifics:

Higher education jumped 312.4% to $33.5 million
E-books climbed 228.3% to $12.1 million
Children's/YA hardcover rose 13.6% to $44.6 million
Professional and scholarly inched up 1.1% to $46.3 million
Children's/YA paperback was up 0.9% to $39.9 million

Adult paperback slipped 0.8% to $114.8 million
Adult mass market dropped 4% to $51 million
University press hardcover fell 6.3% to $5 million
Religious books fell 7.1% to $38.7 million
Adult hardcover fell 11% to $95.7 million
University press paperback dropped 12.5% to $2.3 million
Audiobooks fell 32.9% to $9.5 million

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