Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
What’s the health status of publishing, based on first quarter reports, which were released in July?
The industry is in stable condition, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) findings. Ebook sales are down 2.5% for adult books and 36.6% for children’s/young adult. Print books’ revenue is down in every category except for adult paperback books, which are up 8.6% from first quarter 2014 and professional books are up 16.7%.
As AAP summarized its report: “Downloaded audio continued its hot growth streak, with a 33.6% improvement over the same quarter last year. Physical audio, mass market, paperback and board book formats all experienced growth this quarter as well, while hardback and eBook formats declined.”
We’ve been reading reports about the ebook decline, but what’s up with the increase in audio, paperback books, and board books?
I can see why audio would continue its growth as people use their fancy phones to listen to books while they multitask.
A significant number of extremely popular children’s books are board books this year, including First 100 Words, with more than 195,000 copies sold YTD; Your Baby’s First Word Will be Dada by Jimmy Fallon at 75,000 copies YTD; Goodnight Moon board book at 192,000 copies YTD; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? at 170,000 copies YTD; The Very Hungry Catepillar by Eric Carle at 199,000 YTD, etc. A very good year for board books, both old and new releases.
The stat I find most interesting is the increase in adult paper sales. What’s up with that?
My theory is that a significant contributor to the increase is the popularity of adult coloring books. The trend was kicked off with two coloring books, The Secret Garden and The Enchanted Forest. Good luck finding a copy of either to purchase online or in bookstores. They sell as quickly as they become available. If you aren’t aware of this trend, you can read about it here and here.
I think it’s important for everyone engaged in publishing to pause and ask, as the authors of the articles I linked to above do, what’s the coloring book trend mean for us? I especially appreciated the insights offered by the Flavorwire article, in which the writer pointed out how we tend to “need” our high tech equipment, but then we want to step away from it and engage in artisanal activities–pickling our veggies, making our own cheese–or wine, knitting, woodworking, coloring, etc.
But I think the coloring books are kicking off a book trend as well. I believe we’re on the cusp of the advent of visually-focused books for adults.
Here’s evidence for my pronostication:
- Take journaling Bibles, for example. Here’s Shanna Noel’s blog post about why she loves her journaling Bible and how she uses it to deepen her appreciation for God’s Word. Journaling Bibles are a scrapbooker’s dream come true! And, if you enjoy coloring, creatively journaling in your wide-margin Bible might be a new way for you to interact with Scripture. Here’s a page from Greta Sutherland‘s journaling Bible:
- During a recent trip to a Barnes & Noble store, I was struck by the number of very visual adult books “written” by popular YouTube personalities. A special display showcases the books so the authors’ YouTube groupies can snatch them up.
- As my mind turned to this upswing in visual books, I read this article on the Top 10 Reads from the Yale Book Publishing Course, which highlights the books suggested by presenters at the course for mid- and senior-level publishing professionals. The second book listed is this visual stunner: The Conference of Birds, a Sufi poem illustrated by Caldecott award-winner and famed children’s illustrator, Peter Sis. Check out some of his illustrations for this adult picture book here. My point? A beautifully visual picture book for adults appeared on the Top 10 list for a course on publishing.
Have you seen other signs of visually-oriented adult print books picking up steam? Tell us about it.
What other directions do you think this trend might go?
Why are print books trending up in sales? Click to tweet.
Next book trend: visually-oriented adult books. Click to tweet.