It is not clear just how much college books shifting to digital are contributing to the 17% August decline, but the overall message is clear – print sales in bricks & mortar stores slumped in August compared to last year.
Per PW, “traditionally, August and January are two of biggest sales months for bookstores, since they incorporate the rush period at college campuses.“
Jim Milliot notes, “For instance, Barnes & Noble Education, one of the nation’s largest college store chains, is making a major effort this semester to promote its First Day Complete program, which provides students with all the course materials they need—mostly digital—which are included as a fee or as part of tuition; the strategy has resulted in the decline of print textbooks.”
Thus far, it is not clear just how much college books shifting to digital are contributing to the 17% August decline, but the overall message is clear – print sales in bricks & mortar stores slumped in August compared to last year.
At the same time, the AAP BookStat reports book sales overall (inc. online) up 8.5% in August, with PW’s John Maher running with the headline “Publishing Industry Sales Rebounded in August“, but noting ebooks were down 5.4%.
Important to remember here that, while print sales, easily tracked by ISBNs, cover pretty much all the market, the ebook numbers tell only a partial story.
Contrast the 5.4% AAP-recorded decline in ebook sales against the 10% rise, year on year, in the Kindle Unlimited pot pay-out for August.
August 2023 saw Amazon pay out $49.6 million in royalties, mostly to self-publishers and small presses, all untracked by the AAP.
That of course just for downloads in the Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription programme, and quite apart from AAP-untracked a la carte sales by the self-publishers on Amazon and other platforms, and quite apart from APub ebook subscription downloads and a la carte sales.
The September pay-out to Kindle Unlimited indie authors has just been announced, and we can add another $49.3 million to the total that self-publishers are pocketing from ebook subscription.