News Frankfurt 2015


Frankfurt, 09/10/2015 - According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), in the first six months of 2015, sales of e-books in the US fell by 10 percent, yet e-books’ share of total book sales remains stable at 20 percent. Comparatively, in 2014, this segment was still growing by 3.8 percent. AAP analysts point to three reasons for this decrease in sales: In 2014, only 12 million e-readers were sold, compared to 20 million in 2011; more and more e-book readers are relying on tablets and smartphones to consume content. Another reason is price development: The industry’s “Big Five” have raised the average price of an e-book to over 11 US dollars – at the same level as the price of a paperback. Finally, the third reason identified is the lack of any blockbusters.

Overall, publishers’ book sales for the first half of the year were down 4.1 percent at $5.58 billion compared to $5.82 billion for the first six months in 2014. These numbers include sales for all tracked categories (Trade - fiction/non-fiction/religious, K-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses). Publishers net revenue is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes sales data from more than 1,200 publishers.

The US book market – with particular attention to the e-book market – is one of seven markets that will be examined at THE MARKETS – Global Publishing Summit (, the conference to kick off the Frankfurt Book Fair on Tuesday, 13 October 2015. During this one-day event, industry experts from the respective regions will provide exclusive insight into their markets and valuable first-hand knowledge. “With THE MARKETS, we’re helping our clients tap into business potential, recognize prospective areas for business and make personal contacts”, says Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Speakers include Ralph Lazaro, Vice President, Digital Products Group at Findaway, Joan O’Neil, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Knowledge Services Group at Wiley, Neil Balthaser, Technology Business Executive, Intellogo, Chantal Restivo-Alessi, Chief Digital Officer HarperCollins Publishers and Jonathan Stolper, SVP and Managing Director, Nielsen Book and many more.

Digital Publishing 2.0 – on the verge of the next dimension?

Industry observers like Joe Wikert, Director of Strategy and Business Development for Olive Software and a speaker at THE MARKETS, however, do not believe it will be a long-term slump: “The levelling out of the e-book market has to some extent stumped publishers and has raised the question of whether the print sector can offset the digital downturn.” Wikert calls this state of affairs the “print under glass era” and recommends initiating the next phase of development with “Digital Publishing 2.0” instead. He told the trade magazine buchreport: “Start-ups are going to play an increasingly important role in the digital market. Unlike traditional publishers, they aren’t paralysed by the ‘innovator’s dilemma’. The industry’s large publishers should pay more attention to this start-up community.”

Children’s and young adult books have great impact on overall sales

The dramatic downturn in ebook sales in the first half of 2015 is largely due to the decline in ebook sales in the Children’s/YA category. While overall trade decline was slightly more than 10 percent, the Childrens/YA market sector was down 45.5 percent. Compared to the first half of 2014, where there was significant growth (28.1 percent) in this category for ebooks due to the success of books in the Frozen and Divergent series.

Despite the stagnating ebook sales, trade sales for the first half of 2015 are down only 1.4 percent year-over-year 2014. Downloaded audio is taking the place of ebooks as the fastest-growing format with 31.0 percent growth and paperbacks are also seeing some increased sales with 12.5 percent growth over 2014.

In professional publishing for books and journals, sales are up 16.6 percent in the first half of 2015, though University Press sales are down 2.3 percent. For the education market, PreK-12 instructional materials saw incredibly growth in 2014 (17.2 percent over 2013), but, at the start of 2015, these sales were down by 10.8 percent. Higher Education course materials are also down 9.1 percent.

Overview of the US book market
Sales (Jan-June 2015): $5.58 billion
Sales (2014): $27.99 billion
E-books sold in 2014: 510 million
Hardbacks sold in 2014: 568 million
Print titles (2013): 304,912 titles
Self-published titles (2013): 458,564 (+17 per cent)