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Higher Ed Course Material Sales Undergo Dramatic Slide

Sales of textbook materials for college and university courses plummeted by $119 million between June 2019 and July 2020. That's a 22 percent drop, according to the Association of American Publishers. Sales for July 2020 in that segment totaled $425.7 million, compared to 545.1 million in July 2019.

Total sales in the higher education category of publishing totaled $1.377 billion for the seven-month period of January 2020 through July 2020, down from $1.453 billion over the same period last year, a decline of 5.2 percent.

Professional books, which include business, medical, law, technical and scientific subjects, shrank 20.3 percent during July, coming in at $80.2 million. The category was down 0.7 percent for the first seven months of the year, with $337.2 million in revenue.

As a separate category, university presses generated more revenue: $5 million in July 2020 versus $4.2 million in July 2019, an 18.5 percent lift in sales. However, that wasn't enough to make up for an overall decline in business. Sales for university presses totaled $26.7 million between January and July this year, versus $29.3 million in the same period last year.

Overall education revenues for higher ed, K-12, professional books and universities presses were down 18.7 percent year-to-date, totaling $2.84 billion.

The APP generated the statistics from publisher net revenue, including sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc. The data was drawn from revenue information from 1,360 publishers.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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