From Shelf Awareness:

In December, net book sales fell 3.5%, to $1.52 billion, as reported by 77 publishers to the Association of American Publishers. E-books, which rose 72.1% over December 2010, gained the most of any category, but continued to grow at a slower rate than the category’s triple-digit gains earlier in the year. Adult mass market had the biggest drop, falling 40.9% to the same period a year earlier.

For the full year, net book sales fell 3.2%, to $11.276 billion. As in December, e-books were the strongest category, rising 117.3% while mass markets fell the most, down 35.9%.
Category Sales % Change
E-books $85 million 72.1%
Downloaded audiobooks $10.2 million 17.4%
Children’s YA/hardcover $67.1 million 12.3%
Religious books $52.4 million 3.1%
Audiobooks $12 million 0.6%
Higher ed $863.3 million -3.1%
Univ. press hardcover $4.8 million -7.1%
Adult hardcover $130.3 million -11.8%
Adult paperback $112.4 million -11.9%
Children’s YA/paperback $42 million -13%
Univ. press paperback $5.4 million -32%
Adult mass market $33.8 million -40.9%


Category Sales % change
E-books $969.9 million 117.3%
Downloaded audiobooks $98.8 million 25.5%
Religious books $645.1 million 8.4%
Higher ed $4.542 billion -1.2%
Children’s YA/hardcover $661.9 million -4.7%
Univ. press hardcover $46.5 million -6.9%
Univ. press paperback $50.5 million -6.9%
Audiobooks $118.7 million -8.1%
Children’s YA/paperback $475 million -12.7%
Adult paperback $1.165 billion -15.6%
Adult hardcover $1.293 billion -17.5%
Adult mass market $431.5 million -35.9%



  1. I love your coverage, Paul, but this headline is incredibly misleading. You should say “Trad-pub ebook sales fall.” The market is being stolen out from under them by hundreds of thousands of indie authors, whose sales are up up up.

    (I know you don’t have data for that, but it’s obvious with even a casual perusal of the major online retailers).

    Scott Nicholson

  2. It should be noted that e-book sales “continued to grow at a slower rate” only in the sense of year-over-year. Month-over-month, e-book sales growth stopped after the post-holiday rush last year. Since last April, AAP’s e-book sales reports have run in the vicinity of $80 million every month, and the full-year figure averages to $81 million per month. No growth (but no loss, either)… the curve is flat.


    It’ll be interesting to see what happens in January and February. Simon&Schuster reported that they didn’t see the big jump in e-book sales that they’d forecast, and B&N reported that they had trouble selling their e-reader-only NOOK during the holiday season.

    The era of the e-reader seems to be fading, to be replaced by the era of the tablet.

  3. There are always lazy people looking to jump on ‘trends’ to make predictions. In this kind of embryonic market this is a mugs game imho. I notice there is no information on who’s sales are included and who’s are excluded. Do Amazon supply these figures ?
    There is one thing that is clear – eBook sales are soaring. Paper is sliding into the river.

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