More fiddling, more burning.

Digital Book World reports that the Association of American Publishers has released its sales figures for January through December 2015. After holding steady for two years, then slight growth in 2014, e-book sales fell by $200 million to $1.4 billion dollars in 2015. Meanwhile, downloaded audio is on the rise. (We reported earlier on the AAP’s snapshot for the first 9 months of 2015, which shows effectively the same results.)

Though the press release doesn’t break out the total revenue for audiobooks, it does mention that in Adult Books, downloaded audio is up 38.9% for the year, paperback sales are up 16.2%, e-books down 9.5% and hardback down 0.5%. Meanwhile, publisher sales were up by 0.8% to $7.2 billion from the previous year; publisher revenue was down 2.6% from the previous year to $15.4 billion.

ChartDoes this really surprise anyone? Do I even need to repeat that Association of American Publishers figures do not include any of the self-published books that bid fair to replace agency-priced publisher titles in consumers’ hearts and minds?

I suppose if publishers get concerned enough about the sales decline, they’ll try to do something about it. In the meanwhile, it’s an ample demonstration of the actual effect of agency pricing—and perhaps traditionally-published authors should consider what it means to stay with companies happy to sell its authors’ sales down the river like that. It should be interesting to see what folks like J.A. Konrath and Hugh Howey have to say about these figures in a day or so.


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