Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 23, 2016

Children’s YA and Ebook Sales Reported


Valeria Wicker sent in the above illustration. She is an aspiring children’s book illustrator who graduated from Italian Art and Design Institute in Rome, Italy. She’s loves every type of art.  Her favorite technique is watercolor and pencils, and uses Illustrator and Photoshop. 

The AAP released sales statistics for December and full-year 2015 from close to 1,200 publishers. Adult sales fell $11 million, while children’s and YA sales grew by the same amount.

The most dramatic part of the new December report is the continuing decline in ebook sales. Children’s ebook sales of $8.6 million left the month’s total down $43.6 million compared to 2014, for a 33 percent decline.

Children’s ebook sales of $129 million were down $98.5 million. Children’s/YA sales of $1.708 million for the year were down $56.5 million (or 3 percent). This time last year we thought the children’s/YA numbers were higher ($1.887 billion, rather than $1.708 billion) Children’s paperbacks gained $51 million, while hardcovers fell $65 million; the miscellaneous other category recorded an unusually large increase of $45 million, with the big ebook decline holding the children’s category back.

Sales of print coloring books grew by 23 million units in 2015 (up from just 2 million units in 2014).

The numbers below were adapted from a presentation Publisher Marketplace made last month at Digital Book World.

eBook sales declines received a lot of attention over the past year, but there, too, the historical data shows a steadier narrative. eBook sales for the AAP-reporting publishers stopped their dramatic growth at the beginning of 2013 and have been roughly even since then, until a significant decline over the last 3 months of 2015:

Up until the last quarter, adult ebook sales were close to flat:


The largest driver of change in ebook sales from year to year over the past four years has been hit crossover young adult franchises (or the decline or absence thereof):


2015’s closest thing to a “hit,” on the other hand, was coloring books — which grew by 21 million units — and have no significant ebook equivalent. There are many other factors to consider when evaluating what happened to AAP ebook sales in 2015. The return to agency pricing was likely one element, but was probably not the only change of consequence. Meanwhile, Nook continued to shed customers and ebook dollars; that alone could account for a significant portion of the AAP ebook shortfall. There’s also a potential marketplace effect from the rise of Kindle Unlimited in 2015. Amazon paid independent authors approximately $100 million for US “subscription reads” during the year, and their bestseller lists emphasized KU titles over those only available by direct sale, which could have further shifted where ebook dollars were spent.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Just shared this in Writer Unboxed since they’ve been having a discussion about ebooks, sales, etc. I guess we should all be writing coloring books. Not me!


  2. You’re amazing with these stats, Kathy. YOU never cease to amaze me! 🙂


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