AAP-reporting publishers losing children/YA e-book sales: down 43.3% YoY
I think I’d better first explain the initialisms in the headline. 🙂
The AAP is the
It gathers statistics from over 1,500 USA publishers, and traditionally, has been considered a good source for information about what is happening with publishing (and by extension, reading) in America.
However, it’s worth noting that I’m not part of it. 😉
I know, I know…you aren’t either, probably. 😉 However, I am a publisher, in a very small way…just my own works. Anyone who makes books for the public to purchase is a publisher, and I feel confident in saying that there are over a 150,000 in the USA. That would mean the AAP might have stats from 10% of the publishers…and it could be a lot lower than that.
Anybody who writes a book and puts into the Kindle store using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is a publisher.
Prior to e-books gaining popularity after the introduction of the Kindle in 2007, there was a lot of investment involved in publishing a book. Very few entities had the resources, and the access to distribution (connections with and acceptance by brick-and mortar bookstores for one…I’m a former manager).
E-books can be published and be equally available for purchase by an individual investing no money as by one of the Big 5 publishers.
That means that the AAP may be decreasingly reflective of what people are purchasing and reading.
To be clear, I’m not saying that reduces their relevancy: the most influential and bestselling books still tend to be published by tradpubs (traditional publishers)…it’s just that you can’t consider the AAP’s data now as being a steady state indicator of the popularity of e-books.
I’m setting that up because if it was a constant measure, the stat in the headline might be terrifying if you thought it was reflective of reading overall, and concerning if you thought it reflected e-book adoption.
Children/YA is a segment of books intended for children and “Young Adults”. Many of those books are read by adults…The Hunger Games is a good example.
YoY is short for “Year over Year”: in the case, how did 2015 sales compare to 2014 sales?
According to this
and other sources, overall book sales were down YoY, and trade books (the kind you would have bought in a bookstore…not tetbooks and such) were up slightly.
Reported e-book sales were down, with children’s/YA’s sales down by close to half.
According to a graph in the article, it looks like paperback/mass market book rose more in dollars than e-books dropped.
What’s happening here? Are e-books a failed experiment?
I certainly don’t think so. 😉
My guess is that, especially young adult, e-book sales are market shifting to independent publishers who don’t report…and perhaps more importantly, to subsers (subscription services), including Amazon’s own
Certainly, when I was a “young adult”, KU would have been terrific for me. Some YAs are almost obsessive readers…they want to read a lot of books. That doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t get some books outside of KU, but you could read ten books a week at a manageable cost. My record is 3 1/2 novels in a day. 😉
For young children, Amazon continues to improve FreeTime Unlimited. It might not seem like e-books are a good fit for young children, but they can certainly be one element.
I don’t want to take too much away from the Book Business article (I recommend you read it), but I do want to point out one other thing.
Downloaded audiobooks are way up.
While this may be a coincidence, that has tended to be the case since text-to-speech (TTS) was introduced in the Kindle 2.
Publishers blocked TTS access** after influencing Amazon to give them that option…one argument has been, presumably, that the presence of TTS competes with the sale of audiobooks.
I’ve suggested that it may do the opposite…that TTS may accustom people to listening to books, even though the experiences of listening to an audiobook or TTS are quite different.
There may be other factors. I’m sure a lot more people listen to audiobooks because of their inclusion in KU…but I don’t think those listens will count as sales of downloadable audiobooks (although I’m not sure).
Still, I think it’s hard to argue that TTS has significantly hurt audiobook sales.
My intuition is that children and young adults are reading more than they were five years ago…it’s just not being reported to AAP as much.
Bonus note: Amazon financials call is today (4/28) a 5:00 PM Eastern:
I’ll report on that later.
Bonus deal: the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) is $5 off (which makes it $34.99 for it without a voice remote, $44.99 with one). Without a voice remote (and using the free app), this is the least expensive way to get the Alexa Voice Service, most associated with the Echo. They are doing this to celebrate 100,000 reviews and it is for a limited time. Makes a great gift…
What do you think? Have e-book sales peaked? Is this one year just a fluke, because there wasn’t a new breakout Young Adult series in 2015? Is there a difference in appropriateness for e-books for Young Adults and children versus adults? What is the role of the AAP in the future? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
** A Kindle/Fire with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.