Mass Market Paperback Sales Down Nearly 41%

[RPCV Jason Boog (Guatemala 2000-02) is the editor of the important industry page, GalleyCat, which is part of site. If you write, and or you are interested in publishing, you need to check out this site. Jason writes today a timely piece on the state of book pubishing.]

“According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) net sales revenue report for December, adult mass market paperback sales dropped 40.9 percent compared to the same period the year before. Overall trade sales declined almost three percent, dipping from $561.3 million to $545.1 million.

“Overall trade book sales saw a four percent drop and mass market paperback sales declined nearly 36 percent for the year. While eBook sales increased 117 percent last year, they still have not closed the gap with declining print sales.

“Here’s more from the release: “The December report represents data provided by 77 publishers and only sales of the participants are reported.”


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  • This may be good news. Trade book sales are only down 4%. Perhaps publishers will realize that they cannot continuously repackage the uniform crap they have been putting out for the mass market. When is the last time anyone on this blog bought a book at the supermarket? Take a look: there will be forty titles and perhaps six authors. It’s even hard to find something to read at the airports these days.

  • The AAP does not include or track self-publishing which has also increased exponentially. Likewise, the e-book sales tracked represent their members only- commercial publishers and very few independents. The decreasing mass-market sales figures quoted are skewed. This is most probably related to a changing market: in particular the demise of the chain bookstore and the emergence of large department stores selling books in bulk at discounted prices. Related to this is the incredible number of people who now solely buy books on-line. is not even a member!

  • A spot check on book sales in French, German and Spanish revealed that sales of books in print appear to have decreased worldwide beginning in 2009. In each case, the sales of e-books increased.

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