And for the first time in quite a while, print sales for the category increased as well, by 61.9% for paperbacks and 68.9% for hardback books. Even Adult print sales showed improvement after a lethargic year, rising by 21.6% for hardcover titles and a modest 6.1% for Trade Paperbacks. Unfortunately, the much shunned Mass Market Paperback sector did not fare as well, seeing yet another double-digit decline, this time by -22.5%. Overall, however, total trade sales saw their first significant increase in at least a year, growing by an impressive 27.1% over last January, with Adult Trade seeing a 16.4% improvement overall and Children/YA gaining 80.5% in all segments combined.
These stats, it should be noted, represent the most comprehensive and accurate reporting by the AAP thus far, with a greatly increased number of publishers participating, from fewer than a hundred last year to 1149 for this report, all of whom provided year-over-year sales data. In addition, for the first time eBook sales are broken out for Religious titles and the Children's/YA categories. Figures for Religious sales have been lumped into one subcategory until now, so that it was unknown how much ebooks were accounting for their generally impressive sales over the past year. The new report shows Digital with a 150.7% increase, while Hardcovers showed only a 2.9% increase and Paperbacks were down by 10.3%, the implication being that ebooks have driven Religious sales for quite some time.
This massive leap in digital children's content can be attributed to several factors that, combined, can tell us much about the current state of digital affairs. Firstly, since a large percentage of children's and young adult titles are heavily illustrated, they have been dependent on improvements in fixed layout formats that have made significant advances in the past year. Amazon's launch of the Kindle Fire in November, for example, opened up a whole new market for digital comics and graphic novels with its new KF8 fixed layout format and full color screen - just in time for the holidays. Additionally, Barnes & Noble's Nook Kids (Digital Replica Plus) format launched with 12,000 titles just over a year ago when the Nook Color was announced in October 2010, with the iPad app following in January of last year. And, of course, it was the iPad itself that opened up the field to fixed layout content in the first place via apps and, in December 2010, iBooks 1.2 which brought support for fixed layout ePubs to the iPad's native reader. Consequently, this past year has seen a rapid influx of new graphic novels and children's classics brought to life in digital for the first time as trade publishers have at last embraced the format and worked out how to get complex content like comics and picture books formatted for these new platforms.
In a related report, Bowker's recent Global eBook Monitor study showed that 20% of respondents from ten countries had purchased an ebook in the previous six months, with vastly more planning to do so in the next six months. Worldwide, 80% of adults are aware that electronic books can be downloaded, which is significant in that it shows a growing global market primed for a product that can be made available instantly and anywhere as soon as the infrastructure is in place. Amazon, for example, rolled out the WiFi Kindle Touch to over 175 countries last month, with the 3G model set to launch on April 27th. And just last Friday the new iPad went on sale in 25 countries across the globe. Expect to see sales of ebooks continue to boom in the coming months.