UK publishing industry income was £6bn in 2018, with digital growth in some areas offsetting print decreases in others, according to new figures released today by the Publishers Association.
Overall, there was a 3% increase in digital sales income (to £2.6bn) and a 5% drop in physical sales (to £3.4bn).
Global exports remain crucial to the industry, with total publishing exports remaining level at £3.5bn and accounting for 59% of total sales income – but with export income contracting in some sectors and markets during 2018.
Key statistics from the Publishers Association Publishing Yearbook 2018 include:
- Total digital book sales up 5% to £653m
- Total print book sales down 5% to £2.9bn
- Total consumer audiobook sales income up 43% to £69m
- Total non-fiction/reference up 1% to £954m
- Total journal sales income up 4% to £2bn
- Total journal export income up 3% to £1.8bn
Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association, said:
“UK publishing continues to satisfy the insatiable consumer appetite for books in all forms. Investment in digital is paying off, driving growth and meeting reader demand to access books at any time in the format of their choice.
“Audiobooks have grown phenomenally as ever-increasing numbers of people opt to enjoy books in a way that suits new technologies and keeps pace with our busy lives.
“As the industry’s growth is being driven by digital, it is also clear how unfair it is that readers who prefer digital are being taxed 20% more than their print equivalents. The government must act now to axe the unfair reading tax.
“Despite good top-line revenues, there are some areas of real concern. School textbooks sales have taken a hit as the continuing squeeze on school budgets mean that teachers simply can’t afford the learning resources children need.”
What’s happening with book exports?
- Total exports of physical and digital books are down 3% to £1.6bn, with total exports of physical books down 3% to £1.3bn.
- Categories that have seen increases in export sales income include non-fiction/reference physical and digital books, up 7% to £312m and children’s physical and digital books, up 7% to £116m.
- Areas that have seen increases in export sales income include exports of physical books to North America, up 6% to £128m and exports of physical books to East and South Asia, up 6% to £263m.
What’s happening with home sales of books?
- Home physical and digital book sales are down 5% to £2bn, with a drop of 7% to £1.6bn for physical book sales.
- Home digital book sales have gone up 8% to £394m.
How is consumer publishing performing?
- Total physical and digital book sales for fiction are down 3% to £588m, with an increase of 4% to £229m for fiction digital book sales and a decrease of 7% to £359m for fiction physical book sales.
- Total physical and digital book sales for non-fiction/reference are up 1% to £954m, with physical book sales income level in this category at £878m and digital up 10% to £75m.
- Total physical and digital book sales for children’s are up 3% to £368m, with total physical book sales up 3% to £351m and total digital book sales down 1% to £17m. Export sales are up across physical and digital in this category.
How is education publishing performing?
- Total physical and digital school book sales are down 6% to £319m, with total physical book sales down 6% to £279m and total digital book sales down 8% to £39m. Home and export sales have fallen in physical and digital formats. Some areas have seen increases e.g. the export of physical books to East and South Asia is up 27% to £32m.
- Total physical and digital ELT book sales are down 5% to £269m. Export sales income has fallen overall, although there have seen increases in some areas e.g. the export of physical books to East and South Asia is up 4% to £41m.
How is academic publishing performing?
- Total income from journals is up 4% to £2bn, with total income from digital up 5% to £1.5bn. Export income from journals has increased by 3% to £1.8bn.
- Total physical and digital academic/professional book sales are down 9% to £1.1bn, with total physical book sales down 13% to £823m and total digital book sales up 7% to £282m.
What changes to your methodology have you made this year?
We have worked with Nielsen Book Research, who administer the PA’s data collections, to make a range of changes to try to improve the quality of our data further. These are detailed in the Technical Appendix of the Yearbook, but can be summarised as follows:
- Accuracy – we have more publishers than ever before responding so our overall understanding has improved
- Consistency – we’re making calculations of publisher revenues, regardless of whether they give us their data or not, in a more consistent way.
- Scale – we’ve included calculations for publishers from beyond our industry who are producing books and journals