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The Publishers Association reveals accelerated growth in 2010 digital book market


The Publishers Association has today published its annual report of 2010 sales figures across the UK book publishing industry which demonstrate that digital sales are accelerating across all sectors.

The PA Statistics Yearbook 2010 shows that total book sales in the UK amounted to £3.1bn in 2010. It also reports that:

  • Total consumer digital sales (including consumer ebooks, downloads and audiobooks) showed the most rapid growth, having increased by 318% since 2009 from £4m to £16m. 
  • Combined digital sales have increased by 38% on 2009 figures.
  • The digital publishing market is now 6% of the combined physical and digital sales of UK publishers. The overall size of the digital market stands at £180m.
  • Consumer digital sales of ebooks and downloads increased from 2% to 11% of all digital sales from 2009 to 2010.
  • Academic and professional publishing digital sales have doubled in the past 3 years.
  • Academic and professional sales amounted to 72% of all digital sales.

The Yearbook shows that whilst total book sales have increased by 2% in value terms to £3.1bn over the past year, the volume of sales has fallen by 3% to 739m units.  Export sales rose 4% to £1.25bn and represent 40% of publishers’ revenues.

Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The Publishers Association, said:

“The Publishers Association’s figures, which are the authoritative account of the sector’s performance in 2010, clearly show that digital publishing is growing at an impressive rate in whichever part of the sector you choose to look. 

“Academic and professional publishing, which embraced digital platforms over a decade ago, continues to lead the field.  But now that technology is putting e-reading devices into consumers’ hands, we are starting to see the rapid growth of digital sales in this area too, as consumer publishers develop digital formats to reach wider audiences.

“The innovation in the digital marketplace and the strength of British publishers’ export performance is only possible because of the robust and flexible copyright framework which underpins the UK creative industries.  Copyright ensures that authors, writers and researchers get rewarded for their talent and expertise, and that the publishers who support them see a return on their investment – particularly in their digital infrastructure.

“Parallel to this vibrant performance in digital publishing, the traditional print book market remains hugely popular for the majority of readers and these figures point to a future of print and digital books co-existing in the marketplace.”

The PA’s Yearbook is based on a number of surveys: the ongoing Publishers Association Sales Monitor (PASM) data collection scheme, based on data compiled from c250 publishers representing 77% share of total UK publisher sales; the annual PASM Digital Survey (further details below); plus a one-off Benchmarking Exercise conducted in 2005, which compiled data from approximately 2,240 publishers, representing 100% share of total UK publisher sales.

The companies participating in the PA’s Digital Survey account for over 70% of the physical book sales of all UK publishers. Taking into consideration the balance of participants in terms of category published, the PA is able to roughly calculate the total UK publishers sales of digital products in 2010 as £170m-£180m. Digital sales were defined as including e-books, audiobook downloads, downloads of all/part of books, subscriptions/access to online book publications, and any other wholly digital material delivered online or via CD-ROM.

 To preview the contents list of the yearbook visit the PA's online bookshop.