Sales of digital books in the United States have been in free fall throughout the year. This is mainly attributed to the fact that the vast majority of people are no longer confined and do not buy as many ebooks. The Association of American Publishers reported that e-book revenues fell 12.2% in March 2022, compared to March 2021, to a total of $76.9 million. Digital audiobook sales rose 8.4% in March to $63.5 million. Physical audio fell 20.1% to $1.3 million.
Year-to-date e-book revenue was down 9.8% from the first three months of 2021 to a total of $249.3 million. Digital audiobooks grew 2.7% to $194.5 million in revenue. Physical audio fell 23.4% to $3.7 million.
Commercial sales fell 6.4% in March to $702.5 million. In terms of physical paper format revenues during the month of March, in the Commerce category (consumer books), related revenues decreased by 19.0%, to $238.1 million; Paperbacks grew 8.6%, with revenue of $266.0 million; The mass market fell 30.7% to $14.3 million; and specialty binders were down 17.6%, with revenue of $12.7 million. Paper formats still represent 75.6% of all retail sales.
Year-to-date, trade revenue rose 2.0% to $2.1 billion for the first three months of the year. Bound book revenues decreased 3.0% to $740.6 million; Paperbacks grew 14.6%, with revenue of $763.5 million; The mass market fell 20.1% to $49.4 million; and specialty binders fell 3.1%, with revenues of $43.6 million.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and The New York Times. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.