Expanding global customer base shows the value of educational books


Jane Harley, UK Policy & Partnerships Director at Oxford University Press and Chair of our Education Publishers Council, writes about the highlights and trends for education publishing in 2019.

In these challenging times, it is good to look back on 2019 and reflect on some of the positives. Our expanding global customer base demonstrates the value that educational books bring, with overall sales rising by 12.7%, an uplift in print and ongoing growth of digital.

Print has continued to play an incredibly important part in the blend, up by 9.5% over a 5-year period, in spite of the continuing rise of digital which remained just 8% of the total value. Surely the impact of Covid-19 will be a serious game changer for digital resources in 2020 and beyond.

The UK schoolbook market saw a bounce back after the declines of 2018, thanks largely to a thriving export market and double-digit growth for print and digital international sales. Home sales remained flat and have continued to be impacted by school budget constraints, a rise in free resources and new entrants in the market. Interestingly, the pricing of books in the UK market is now 17.9% lower than in 2015 and 2.5% down on last year as publishers work to ensure value for money.

With a mature and declining UK market, the importance of our exports remains paramount and sales were up by 26.7% in the last 5 years. Export sales, including ELT, now represent 72% of the invoiced value of educational sales. Reporting for the first time at an individual country level, we can see the significance of the UAE and Saudi Arabian markets for schoolbooks, together accounting for £37m sales value. In ELT, the stand-out markets are Spain and Mexico.

Looking to the future, we must foster and support the UK home market and value its reputation as an innovator and creator of powerful resources. Our influence internationally is built on the UK’s position as an education leader and education publishing plays a critical role in underpinning this.

This article originally appeared in the Publishers Association Yearbook 2019. Find out more information about this publication here.