School Instructional Materials Market Takes Major Year-to-Date Hit in Sales

Associate Editor

A new report finds that sales of PreK-12 instructional materials for the first part of the year plummeted by 28 percent, by far the largest drop of any segment that was analyzed across the publishing industry.

The Association of American Publishers found that all segments of the industry experienced a 6 percent decline in sales during the first seven months of 2020 compared to last year. 

Year-to-date education sales were down nearly 19 percent, coming in at $2.84 billion, according to the AAP report.

Higher education course materials and university presses are among the categories tracked in the organization’s “StatShot” reports. (See the bar graph below for all groups.)

The seven publishers contributing sales numbers for PreK-12 print and digital instructional materials reported sales of $1.46 billion from January to July 2020, which is close to 30 percent less than the same period in 2019.

Participating publishers were: Cengage Learning, Curriculum Associates, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill Education, Okapi Educational Publishing, Savvas Learning Company (formerly Pearson K12 Learning) and Scholastic Education.

However, these numbers might change significantly as about 60 percent of PreK-12 sales take place June through August. A fuller picture will emerge when the August data is available, the publishers’ association said.

Whether school closures due to COVID-19 played a role in the dramatic drop so far this year was not part of the study.

Districts reeling from the pandemic also turned their attention to other needs. Those included purchasing more laptops and tablets, improving connectivity, buying personal protective equipment and cleaning agents to combat the coronavirus, and safely delivering meals to students who depend on breakfasts and lunches at school for much of their weekday nourishment.

More information about publishing industry revenues can be found below.

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