We're sure there are still scores of lifelong book lovers whose paper tomes we can pry from their cold, dead fingers, but the evidence strongly suggests that plenty of others are rapidly warming to their shiny new e-readers. US sales of e-books generated about $90.3 million in revenue in February -- roughly triple the sales reported in the same month last year. To boot, they were the dominant format for trade titles, a category that includes adult and children's works. Meanwhile, printed books declined 34 percent and 16 percent in those respective areas, with gentler, single-digit drops for education and religious titles. That follows strong January sales and echoes what Amazon said about e-books outselling print versions two to one. To be fair, of course, February is a time of year when people who received e-readers during the holidays load 'em up with bestsellers -- you know, to keep them entertained during spring break.
Show full PR text
E-Books Rank as #1 Format among All Trade Categories for the Month

April 14, 2011; New York, NY-- Powerful continuing growth of books on digital platforms--both e-Books and Downloaded Audiobooks--are highlights of the February 2011 sales report of the Association of American Publishers, which is being released today.

The report, produced by the trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry, tracks monthly and year-to-date publishers' net sales revenue in all categories of commercial, education, professional and scholarly books and journals.

According to the February results, once again e-Books have enjoyed triple-digit percentage growth, 202.3%, vs February 2010. Downloaded Audiobooks, which have also seen consistent monthly gains, increased 36.7% vs last February.

For February 2011, e-Books ranked as the #1 format among all categories of Trade publishing (Adult Hardcover, Adult Paperback, Adult Mass Market, Children's/Young Adult Hardcover, Children's/Young Adult Paperback).

This one-month surge is primarily attributed to a high level of strong post-holiday e-Book buying, or "loading," by consumers who received e-Reader devices as gifts. Experts note that the expanded selection of e-Readers introduced for the holidays and the broader availability of titles are factors.

Additionally, Trade publishing houses cite e-Books as generating fresh consumer interest in--and new revenue streams for--"backlist" titles, books that have been in print for at least a year. Many publishers report that e-Book readers who enjoy a newly-released book will frequently buy an author's full backlist.

For the year to date (January/February 2011 vs January/February 2010), which encompasses this heavy post-holiday buying period, e-Books grew 169.4% to $164.1M while the combined categories of print books fell 24.8% to $441.7M.*

According to Tom Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer of AAP, "The February results reflect two core facts: people love books and publishers actively serve readers wherever they are. The public is embracing the breadth and variety of reading choices available to them. They have made e-Books permanent additions to their lifestyle while maintaining interest in print format books."

Allen added that book publishers have been leaders among content providers in identifying and serving new audiences. "Publishers have always strategically expanded into all the markets and formats where readers want to find books, whether it was Trade Paperback, Mass Market or now digital. By extending their work as developers, producers and marketers of high-quality content to emerging technologies, publishers are constantly redefining the timeless concept of 'books.'"

Other highlights in the February 2011 report (all February 2011 vs February 2010 unless otherwise noted):

Digital categories:
E-Book sales were $90.3 Million, growing 202.3% vs February 2010. Downloaded Audiobooks were $6.9M, an increase of 36.7%.

Trade categories:
Adult Trade categories combined (Hardcover, Paperback and Mass Market) were $156.8M, down 34.4%. Children's/Young Adult categories combined (Hardcover and Paperback) were $58.5M, a decline of 16.1%

*Year-to-date 2011 vs YTD 2010: E-Books increased by 169.4% while all categories combined of print Trade books declined by 24.8%

Religious books:
February sales of $48.5M were an increase of 5.5%; this reflects growth as well in the category for year-to-date, up 6.1% to $93.9M.

Education categories:
Higher Education sales for YTD (January and February 2011) were $406.9M, down slightly by 5.6% vs YTD 2010. In K-12, YTD sales were $173M, declining 8.9% from 2010.

Professional/Scholarly categories:
Total sales for professional books and journals were $42.9M, a slight drop of 3.6% vs February 2010. Combined sales of University Press (hardcover and paperback) were $6.7M, falling 6% vs last year.

The AAP monthly and year-end sales report represents data provided by 84 U.S. publishing houses representing major commercial, education, professional, scholarly and independents. Data on e-Books comes from 16 houses. The report does not include all book and journal net sales but provides what's acknowledged as the best industry snapshot currently available.

AAP also produces a separate in-depth report of total book sales, available in May. For more information about this, please contact the appropriate person below.