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The Publishers Association releases book sales data for first quarter of 2011


Weak retail sector leads to falling sales
Individual book categories holding up despite downturn

The Publishers Association’s data collection scheme, the PA Sales Monitor (PASM), has released its latest book sales figures for the first quarter of 2011. In line with recent Office of National Statistics figures which show the weakest growth in sales values so far this year, the PASM figures show a downturn in volume and value sales when compared to the first quarter of 2010, though individual book categories are weathering the storm.

Total volume sales for the period of January to March 2011 decreased by 7.5% from 138.6m units to 128.3m units when compared to the first quarter of 2010, while value sales fell by 4.9%, from £490m to £466m.

Home volume sales fell by 9%, from 85.1m to 77.5m units, while home value sales decreased by 2.2% from £279m to £272m. Export volume sales were down by 5% from 53.5m to 50.8m units, while the value of exports fell by 8.2%, from £212m to £194m.

Despite the overall decrease in sales, certain book categories are holding up well. General non-fiction hardbacks enjoyed a 49% increase in the value of home sales, while the School and English Language Teaching (ELT) categories saw modest increases in home value sales by 8.5% and 10.6% respectively. All three categories experienced corresponding increases in home volume sales, with ELT rising the most by 38.3%.

On the export side, individual book categories enjoyed increases in value sales. School rose by 14.5%, General non-fiction hardbacks by 20.6% and Fiction hardbacks by 33.7%. These were reflected in the export volume sales, with School books experiencing the most substantial rise of 118.8%.

The weak economic recovery, exacerbated by rising household costs and low consumer confidence, has led to falling sales across the retail sector and high streets. Nevertheless, the publishing market is holding up well, particularly in comparison to other retail sectors. Figures from the BRC and KPMG reported that sales values were 2.1% lower on a like-for-like basis in May 2011 compared to the same period the previous year. The CBI has also released retail figures focusing on the trading period between 27 May and 15 June. Clothing sales had dropped by 2%; grocery sales recorded the slowest growth for two years; and household goods sales fell by 85%.

Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The Publishers Association commented, “The latest sales figures from our data collection scheme demonstrate the impact that the economic downturn and struggling high street is having on our industry, as doubtless it will be having across most retail sectors. We are pleased to see some book categories bearing up in spite of the economic difficulties, and the fact that the industry as a whole continues to perform well in spite of the circumstances in which it currently operates. We will continue to monitor the progress of publishers’ sales throughout the year.”

For further information please contact Victoria Lustigman at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Notes to Editors

The Publishers Association

The Publishers Association (PA) is the leading trade organisation serving book, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK. Membership is comprised of 113 companies from across the trade, academic and education sectors.  Its core service is representation and lobbying, around copyright, rights and other matters relevant to members, who represent roughly 80% of the industry by turnover.

PA Sales Monitor

The PA Sales Monitor is The Publishers Association’s monthly data collection scheme of publishers’ sales split into home and export sales, and within these destinations into 10 categories and, for exports by value, 7 geographical regions.  There are 23 participant distributors/publishers in PASM representing c250 publishers with combined sales estimated to account for 76% of total UK publishers’ sales. These data show patterns and trends in sales only for participating companies supplying data for this period, and in this document we do not attempt to gross up the figures to reflect sales for the industry as a whole