Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2010 Book Industry Sales

Hot on the heels of this morning's news that Borders has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a report from the Association of American Publishers detailing the final sales figures for 2010. As expected, ebook sales smoked everything. While Borders reported an overall loss of $168 million for 2010, industry wide ebook sales jumped 164% to $441.3 million (up from $166.9 last year) - very little of which was earned by Borders, who will now close its largest 200 stores (out of the 642 still operating) in order to liquidate enough inventory to keep the others running. But with $1.29 billion in liabilities and a total of only $1.27 billion in assets, it's unlikely any suppliers will willingly throw away more inventory: each of the five largest publishers are owed double-digit millions for inventory already sold ($44.1 million to Penguin alone), and have stopped shipments to Borders weeks ago.

U.S. Book Sales Statistics compiled by the Association of American Publishers
Sales of physical editions fell in every segment of the market, with Adult Hardbacks down 5.1%, Adult Paperbacks losing two percent, and Mass Market titles dropping 6.3 percent. In the Children's and Young Adult book sector, Paperbacks lost 5.7 percent and hardbacks dropped 9.5%. Meanwhile, digital sales are experiencing unprecedented growth. Among audio titles, downloaded digital audio books climbed 38.8 percent while physical audio books lost 6.3%.

The AAP's official figures put ebook sales at 8.32 percent of the domestic trade book market, up from 3.2 percent in 2009. As you can see from the chart above (released as part of this morning's press report), sales of printed books have now declined for three years running, while ebooks gained significant ground during the same period, and have done so consistently since the AAP began tracking digital sales in 2002.

And that's a trend that's not likely to change anytime soon.

With the single exception of a large jump in 2005, print book sales have remained essentially stagnant for over a decade now. And with the cost of print editions climbing as sales fall (a self-perpetuating cycle), and retail outlets being eliminated right and left at an alarming rate, digital editions will only continue to claim more and more of the overall book market.