Press Release

Publisher Revenue for eBooks Increased in October

Washington, DC; December 6, 2018 – October 2018 marked the second time in two years that publishers saw modest revenue growth in eBooks (+4.4%), with increases for the format across all trade book categories. Aside from downloaded audio, eBooks had the largest percent of revenue growth for the month, compared to October 2017.

Trade eBook Sales for October 2014 – 2018 

Publishers’ revenues (sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc.) were $1.16 billion in October 2018, down from $1.17 billion in 2017 (-0.8%). The trade book categories either remained flat or declined in October, while educational and scholarly publishing saw some revenue increases.

For the year to date (Jan. – Oct.), revenue for trade publishers was up by $213.8 million (+3.5%). Despite the gains in trade publishing, overall publisher revenue was down by $87.2 million (-0.7%) for all tracked categories (Trade, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses).

Trade Publishing

Jan. to Oct: Trade Book Revenue (in millions)

Jan. – Oct. 2018

Jan. – Oct. 2017

Percent Change

Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction








Religious Presses








October format preferences varied from 2018’s norms, with modest revenue growth for eBooks (+4.4%) and a decline in revenue for hardback books (-7.5%). eBook revenue increased in October for Adult Books (+3.0%), Childrens/YA Books (+17.3%), and Religious Presses (+12.0%).

However, for the year-to-date (Jan. – Oct.), eBook revenues were down -3.1% from the same period in 2017. Downloaded audio remains the format with the highest percent revenue growth year-to-date (+37.7%).

Jan. to Oct.: Total Trade Revenue by Format (in millions)

Jan. – Oct. 2018

Jan. – Oct. 2017

Percent Change





Paperback & Mass Market








Downloaded Audio




Physical Audio




Board Books








Education and Scholarly Publishing

Revenues for education and scholarly publishers fared better in October than in the past few months, with most categories (Higher Ed, PreK-12, and University Presses) seeing increased revenue. However, year-to-date (Jan. – Oct.) revenue in these categories remained down in 2018 compared to the same timeframe in 2017.

Jan. to Oct: Education and Scholarly Publishing (in millions)

Jan. – Oct. 2018

Jan. – Oct. 2017

Percent Change

Higher Ed Course Materials




PreK-12 Instructional Materials




*Professional Books




University Presses




* The 2017 and 2018 figures for Professional Books here reflect adjustments made to accommodate routine publishers’ restatements. AAP StatShot Monthly reports data as submitted by participating publishers, which includes restatements of the current and prior year, to provide the most current data available.

Publisher net revenue is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes revenue from about 1,100 publishers, with participation subject to change over time. The StatShot Annual, Higher Education Annual, and PreK-12 Annual reports for 2017 are available for purchase; additional information about them can be found here.

About AAP:

AAP | The Association of American Publishers represents the leading book, journal, and education publishers in the United States on matters of law and policy, advocating for outcomes that incentivize the publication of creative expression, professional content, and learning solutions. As essential participants in local markets and the global economy, our members invest in and inspire the exchange of ideas, transforming the world we live in one word at a time. Find us online at or on twitter at @AmericanPublish