Thursday, August 17, 2017

Does Book Publishing Pricing Hurt Sales?

In 2016, according to sales estimates released by the Association of American Publishers, the total number of book units sold was 40,000,000 more than in 2015 - up to 1.2% - but revenue declined by 5.1% - to 26.24 billion dollars.  To me, the only conclusion one can draw from this, is that publishers aren’t charging enough for books.

Who sells 40 million more units but sees revenue decline by 420 million dollars?

There are some positives, however, in the data:

·         Trade sales were up 1.5% but other areas declined.
·         Adult fiction was the only segment within trade books to decline.
·         Print sales rose, e-books fell, and downloadable audio doubled its 2012 total.
·         Mass market paperbacks only fell .4%.
·         Adult non-fiction, is the largest revenue provider at $5.87 billion, up over 5% from a year ago.
·         Religious presses soared nearly 7% in revenue in one year.
·         Children’s books and YA jumped by 6.7%.

Book publishers must raise their prices.  Stores and vendors like Amazon or B&N can choose to pass along discounts to consumers if it wishes, but publishers need to be financially healthy.

It is great that more books sold last year than in 2015, because that could indicate an expansion in the number of book buyers or it means voracious readers are expanding their reading.  Or maybe more people chose to buy discounted books as presents.

Publishers Weekly, in analyzing the data, suggested that adult fiction declined steeply because there was a lack of a big book “as was the inability of novelists to get media attention while the broadcast and cable networks covered the presidential election.”

What I find to be remarkable is that non-fiction adult trade books is doing so well.  This is the exact category of content the Internet, with all of its free blogs, resources, and data was supposed to make outdated and obsolete for book buyers.  Instead it’s seeing a resurgence.

I expect to see book sales rise for 2017.  Why? I’m an optimist who bets on books every day. I think with more indie stories and even Amazon brick and mortar coming out, we’ll see higher sales. I also believe in a non-election, non-Olympics, war-free year, and an improving economy, we’ll see more media covering books and more people looking to enjoy the escape books provide us.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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