BookStats, What Happened in the Publishing Industry in 2011

BookStats, the annual survey conducted by BISG that captures the size and scope of the publishing industry, was released today. See the press release below; there are some interesting factoids, particularly for anyone working with ebooks. 

Annual Survey, Capturing Size and Scope of Publishing Industry, Released 

2012 Edition Examines Categories, Formats, and Sales Channels

New York, NY (July 18, 2012) —The e-book phenomenon continued in 2011 with e-books ranking, for the first time, as the year’s #1 individual format for Adult Fiction; Children’s/Young Adult titles showed the strongest performance among categories; brick-and-mortar stores remain the biggest sales channel; and direct-to-consumer saw strong growth according to BookStats (© 2012), the most comprehensive annual survey of the size and scope of the U.S. publishing industry.

BookStats, examining U.S. publishers’ annual net sales revenues and net units, is co-produced by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. It is being released this week.

The 2012 edition includes data provided by 1,977 publishers from all four industry sectors: Trade (fiction and non-fiction for adults and children), School/K-12, Higher Education and Professional/Scholarly Publishing. The report is available for purchase as a customizable interactive Online Data Dashboard, a PDF Summary Overview providing major highlights and/or a full in-depth PDF Annual Report including each area’s granular data.

Among the key highlights that emerged in BookStats 2012:

• In the overall Trade sector (encompassing Fiction and Non-Fiction for Children, Young Adults and Adults), e-books’ net sales revenue more than doubled in 2011 vs. 2010. This significant growth was particularly fueled by e-books’ performance in the Adult Fiction segment where, for the first time, they ranked #1 in net revenue among all individual print and electronic formats.

• Among categories, both Religion and Children’s/Young Adults showed strong growth while Children’s/YA ranked as the fastest-growing category in publishing in 2011.

• Despite the negative impact of Borders’ bankruptcy and closures, particularly on print book sales, through three quarters of 2011, the Trade market held up equal with 2010 revenue figures, even showing a slight increase.

• Brick-and-mortar retail remained the #1 sales distribution channel for publishers in 2011, as it did in 2010. Publishers’ revenue from direct-to-consumer sales nearly doubled, topping $1 billion for the first time.

The growth of E-Books 

The e-book phenomenon continued through 2011, attributable to the ongoing popularity of e-readers, tablets, and other devices as well as publishers’ strategic production, distribution and marketing of content in all e-formats.

In the overall Trade sector, publishers’ net sales revenue from e-books more than doubled: from $869 million, or 6% of Trade net revenues, in 2010 to $2.074 billion, or 15% of net revenues, in 2011.* Units more than doubled as well: 125 million e-books sold in 2010, representing 5% of the Trade sector, grew to 388 million e-books, representing 15.5%, in 2011. While e-books showed increasing strength, the combined print formats (including Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Mass-Market Paperback) still represented the majority of publishers’ net revenue in the Trade sector at $11.1 billion for 2011.

Within the Trade sector’s Adult Fiction category, records were broken as e-books became the dominant single format there in terms of net revenue for calendar year 2011 with 30% of total net publisher dollar sales. In 2010, e-books had ranked fourth among the individual print and electronic categories with 13% share. Adult Fiction e-book revenue for 2011 was $1.27 billion, growing by 117% from $585 million in 2010. This translated to 203 million units, up 238% from 85 million in 2010. Similar to the broader overall Trade sector, the combined print formats also represented the majority of publishers’ revenue in the Adult Fiction category, at $2.84 billion.

*Represents all primary e-formats: e-books, enhanced e-books and paid mobile apps. 

Overall industry numbers 

Despite the prolonged impact of the Borders bankruptcy (particularly on orders of print format books) but buoyed by continuing popularity of e-books, publishers net sales revenue for the Trade sector was $13.97 billion for 2011 as compared to $13.90 for 2010. This was an increase of 0.5%.

The overall total U.S. book market (representing all commercial, entertainment, educational, professional, and scholarly sectors) declined just 2.5%, from $27.9 billion in 2010 to $27.2 billion in 2011. While overall net revenue was down, overall units were up 3.4%, from 2.68 billion in 2010 to 2.77 billion in 2011.


The Children’s/Young Adult category saw the highest year-over-year, increasing 12% from $2.48 billion to $2.78 billion. One factor was the enormous popularity of several blockbuster releases from publishers, particularly in YA Fiction. Religious books rebounded in 2011 after a decline in 2009 with its growth reflecting the category’s digital transition as well as success of several major titles.

Sales distribution channels 

Despite the Borders bankruptcy resulting in the closure of more than 500 stores in 2011, brick-and-mortar retail again ranked as the #1 sales channel for publishers in 2011: net revenue was $8.59 billion, representing 31.5% of total net dollar sales. This was, however, a decline of 12.6% from 2010.

This year, it was followed by:

• Institutional sales (including sales to libraries, businesses, government, schools, and other organizations): $5.39 billion or 20%.

• Online retail: Reflecting broader national trends in consumer purchasing, revenue from sales through online retail grew 35% from 2010 ($3.72 billion) to $5.04 billion in 2011. This channel, which represented 13% of total publisher net dollars in 2010, grew to 18.5% of the total in 2011.

• Wholesalers/jobbers: Publishers’ revenues were $5.04 billion (18% of total) from this channel, which serves independent booksellers and mass merchants among other retailers.

A notable highlight in BookStats 2012: direct-to-consumer sales by publishers nearly doubled in revenue and topped $1 billion for the first time. In 2011, publishers saw $1.11 billion in direct-to-consumer dollars, growing from $702 million in 2010 – an increase of 58%.


In 2010, two of U.S. publishing’s foremost professional organizations – Book Industry Study Group and the Association of American Publishers – came together to collaboratively design and produce a new kind of annual survey that would definitively capture the transformational changes in the industry from a 360° perspective. The first edition of BookStats© was released in the summer of 2011 and quickly became recognized as a credible, substantive resource.

The cornerstone of BookStats’ methodology is its unprecedented breadth of publisher source data. The 1,977 organizations that chose to participate represent the full spectrum of the U.S. publishing industry: large, medium, and small; major content companies to non-profits; and the entire scope of consumer, educational, professional, and scholarly markets. Using a three-sided cube model, the data is analyzed based on categories, formats, and sales distribution channels. The BookStats Online Data Dashboard product brings the cube to life, enabling the user to examine each side through customizable filtering and cross tabs across the three dimensions.

All figures and quantities included in BookStats represent net publisher totals inclusive of discounts and credit for returns. BookStats does not reflect consumer pricing or purchases.

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About the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. 

The Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG) is the U.S. book industry’s leading trade association for policy, standards and research. The mission of BISG is to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry supply chain for both physical and digital products. Membership consists of publishers, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, librarians and others engaged in the business of print and electronic media. For over 30 years, BISG has provided a forum for all industry professionals to come together and efficiently address issues and concerns to advance the book community. Learn more about BISG at

About the Association of American Publishers 

AAP is the national trade association representing 300 premier US publishers of high-quality entertainment, education, professional and scholarly content, produced with the most current technology, reaching the world. For more information, visit


4 Replies to “BookStats, What Happened in the Publishing Industry in 2011”

  1. I came across your blog via Books and Writers on LinkedIn and have added you to my RSS Reader. You have lots of great info here! Feel free to check out my blog as well!

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