Educational Book Sales Statistics

Educational publishing accounts for 31.28% of the publishing industry’s revenue as of 2022. While the educational segment bounced back from the terrible 2020, it’s still growing slower than the industry overall.

  • As of 2022, educational books generated over $8.79 billion in sales revenue in the United States.
  • Textbook sales grew by 9.46% compared to 2021, continuing the growth of this segment after the drop during the pandemic-affected 2020 calendar year.
  • 2022 was the second-best year for educational sales over the past 10 years, trailing only $9.12 billion generated during 2014.
  • Overall, educational book sales grew by 25.04%% over the last 5 years and 1.62% since 2013.
  • Educational book sales are growing slower than book sales overall, as the publishing industry has grown by 11.3% over the last 5 years and 8.35% since 2013.
YearEducational books revenue ($ billion)Growth
5-year growth25.04%
10-year growth1.62%
  • Educational book revenue accounted for 31.87% of the total publishing revenue in the United States in 2022, an increase from 28.24% a year before.
  • Educational books had the biggest share in the publishing revenue in 2022 ever since 2014.
  • Over the last 5 years, the share of the educational segment in the industry’s revenue grew by 16.53%.
YearEducational books revenue
($ billion)
Book industry revenue
($ billion)
Share of educational book sales
5-year growth28.86%10.59%16.53%
10-year growth3.54%3.80%-0.25%

PreK-12 book sales are on the rise within the educational sector, while higher-ed book sales have been declining over the last decade:

  • In 2022, K-12 books generated $5.61 billion in revenue in the United States. This was a 16.63% increase compared to 2021, which also had a huge growth compared to 2020.
  • Higher-ed book sales were at $3.18 billion in 2022, declining by 1.24% compared to 2021.
  • Since 2019, K-12 textbooks have started generating more sales revenue than higher-ed textbooks in the United States.
  • K-12 textbook sales have grown by 67.46% over the last years and 46.09% since 2013.
  • At the same time, higher-ed book sales are declining – dropping by 13.59% over the last 5 years and over 33.89% since 2013.
YearK-12 sales revenue
($ billion)
K-12 growthHigher-ed sales revenue
($ billion)
Higher-ed growth
5-year growth67.46%-13.59%
10-year growth46.09%-33.89%
  • As of 2022, preK-12 books account for 62.64% of the educational revenue in the US, while the share of college textbook revenue stands at 37.36%.
  • For the first time over the last 10 years, K-12 books account for more than 60% of the educational revenue in the country. This is also the fourth year in a row where K-12 sales revenue represents the majority of the educational revenue in the US.
  • Over the last 5 years, the share of K-12 book sales revenue in the educational segment increased by 29.96%, and the growth is over 41.10% over the last 10 years.
  • On the other hand, the share of college book sales revenue in the educational segment declined by 27.87% over the last 5 years and more than 31% over the last 10 years.
YearK-12 shareK-12 growthCollege shareCollege growth
5-year growth29.96%-27.87%
10-year growth41.10%-32.81%

The price of textbooks over time

  • Between 1977 and 2015, the cost of textbooks increased by over 1000%.
  • Textbook costs rose 67% from 2008 to 2018.
  • Hardcopy books can cost as much as $400.00, with the average price between $80 and $150.
  • The price of textbooks increases by an average of 12% with each new edition but can cost up to 50% more.
  • New editions come out every 3-4 years on average.

Who makes money from college textbooks?

  • The average higher-ed textbook costs around $105.37.
  • From the sales of the average college textbook:
    • The publisher receives 66%, of which 7% is profit.
    • The author receives 11.60% royalties.
    • The campus store receives 22.40%, of which 4.50% is profit.
  • McGraw-Hill’s profit margin is 25%, whereas Pearson’s is 10%

The impact of the price of textbooks on a student’s education

  • Students purchase an average of 10 textbooks over an academic year
  • 65% of students admit they have skipped buying a textbook because they are so expensive
  • 90% of students believe not buying textbooks can have a serious impact on their grades
  • 21% of students have skipped buying access codes to online textbooks and resources due to price
  • Access codes also provide access to homework assignments and quizzes, meaning forgoing access codes directly impacts grades.
  • 82% of students who have skipped a meal due to their financial situation have also skipped buying textbooks due to the cost
  • 38% of students who have skipped a meal due to their financial situation have also admitted skipping access codes — almost twice as many as the national average of 21%
  • 58% of college students share textbooks with friends
  • 33% have used financial aid for their textbooks
  • 19% of students have stated the cost of books has influenced their decision on what classes to take
  • 71% of colleges believe new editions of textbooks are rarely justified