Research Outline

Publishing in the United States


To examine the trends of relative increases and decreases of each book medium (print, e-book and audiobooks), for fiction and non-fiction, including revenue, unit sales and market share percentage forecasts.

Early Findings


  • 695 million print books were sold in the US 2018.
  • Print book sales have grown and declined several times in the past couple decades.
  • Print books earned $22.6 billion in 2018.
  • Officially tracked categories for all book publishers (this includes other formats) are trade, higher education, preK-12, professional, university presses and other.
  • "Trade" encompasses a variety of fiction, non-fiction and religious titles but is the largest segment of the market. Growth in this category has been flat at 0.3%.
  • Adult fiction was worth $4.4 billion in 2018, again with only 0.4% growth.
  • Child & YA fiction grew slightly in revenue but dropped in unit sales.


  • E-books saw robust growth up until 2013, where they then dropped off. Sales have been growing again, since.
  • Last year, e-books sold $2.04 billion.
  • 1 in 4 books sold online were e-books.


  • As stated, audiobooks made $940 million in 2018. 91% of them are digital.
  • The growth of the audiobook industry has been consistently trending upward, sharply rising in the past couple years.
  • Non-fiction audiobooks represent 32.7% of unit sales, meaning fiction is 67.3%.
  • 44,685 audiobook titles were produced in 2018.
  • Downloaded audiobooks are heavily driving category growth. In 2018, it grew 28.7%.