We book lovers are subject to one constant anxiety: the death of literature as we know it. (Okay, two anxieties: the first is fear for our favorite characters’ lives.) The headlines are as clear as they are grim—publishing companies are losing money, physical bookstores are closing, fewer Americans are reading than ever before. It’s frightening for readers and writers alike to consider that the stories we care so much about may not always exist in a familiar, comforting way… or they might not exist at all.
These claims have varying degrees of truth. Yes, many Americans don’t read. But the claim about bookstores disappearing is only partially true: while chain bookstores have continually lost money and closed locations over the past ten years, indie bookstores are experiencing a period of growth. It’s much the same with publishing: self-publishing may be on the rise, but big publishers haven’t gone away. Despite all the grim news, the facts are a lot more optimistic. A recent financial report revealed which book genres and categories generated increasing profits in 2018—and, spoiler alert, it’s actually most of them.
Image Via Kodak
The report compares profits in 2017 and 2018, indicating which genres generated revenue over the last year. This suggests which categories will continue to grow in 2019—and should offer a reason for book lovers to relax!
Though eBooks tend to get the most buzz, particularly with the widely-discussed self-publishing trend, it’s actually audiobooks that experienced the most growth (37.1%). Surprisingly, it’s eBooks that experienced a financial loss (-3.6%). Of course, figures like that can be a little abstract—in concrete terms, eBooks still made $1 billion in 2018.
Children’s and YA books also had notable financial gains, with 3.3 and 4.5% increases respectively.
Adult books generated significant revenue ($247.4 million) although some subcategories experienced financial decline. Audiobook and hardcover sales increased; mass-market paperbacks and physical audiobooks declined significantly. Since we’re pretty sure physical audiobooks refer to CDs and cassette tapes, we’re going to have to follow up with a resounding duh. These results plainly suggest that publishing isn’t dead (or even dying).
Image vIA pENGUIN rANDOM hOUSE
Since publishers’ revenue increased overall (4.6%), maybe now you’ll be able to sleep at night—unless your next favorite read is keeping you awake!
Featured Image Via University of Cambridge