Book Sales News in U.S. for 2018 Announced

In 2018, U.S. book publishers had a net revenue of $25.82 billion and sold 2.71 billion units, according to the Association of American Publishers’ StatShot Annual Report for Calendar Year 2018 just released. Unlike measures that rely solely on sales data, the StatShot Annual Report combines annual data submitted by publishers with market modeling to estimate the total volume of the U.S. publishing industry.

Here are a few highlights from the report:

Overall, total book revenue has fallen from 2014. Most of the declines have been in higher ed, pre-K-12 and professional categories. General trade revenue has increased steadily to $16.19 billion in 2018 from $15.43 billion in 2014 or 5% in the five-year period.

The online sales show a steady increase. For the second year in a row, publisher sales to online retail channels, which totaled $8.03 billion—more than ONE BILLION more than the brick and mortar stores—8.03 billion vs. 6.9 billion.

The online retail channels (that’s the dot com arena), 45.1% of publisher sales were trading print formats, 24.5% were e-books, 14.5% were instructional materials, 13.7% were downloaded audio, and 2.2% were physical audio or a different format.

What’s hot? The downloaded audio was again the fastest-growing format overall, growing 28.7% in 2018 over 2017, and growing 181.8% in the five years since 2014. That’s HUGE and means that audio books must be added to your reader/listener formats.

During the past five years, the biggest growth was in nonfiction books–both adult, up 22.8%, and children’s & YA, up 38.5%.  The possible increase in adult nonfiction could be due to the significant increase of politically flavored books since 2016. And last year’s big, big book, Becoming by Michelle Obama ran circles around the all nonfiction books (well over three million copies to the runner up of Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis—one million)—three cheers for the ladies!

Publisher revenue for adult fiction was flat (0.4%) at $4.40 billion in 2018, while children’s & YA fiction grew slightly (1.6%) to $3.72 billion. Hmmm … maybe less escapism and more learning?

Bottom line: people are reading …grand news for all of us.




Dr. Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and author of 36 multi-award books. She’s guided over 1,000 authors in creating their books, earned in excess of $3,000,000 in speaking fees based on her books and gathered over $2,000,000 in onsite book sales at her speaking gigs. Her latest book, How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech flips a difficult topic into a simple and easily comprehensible plan. If you want to get into speaking, this is the guide that will be the game-changer to success.

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