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Good? Publishing is great!

Good? Publishing is great!

25 June 2014

Although the World Cup has revealed that England is well outside of the top ten in terms of world football, a survey out this week shows the UK to be in the top seven contributors to the world: and it’s largely because of our publishers!

 Available at GoodCountry.org the report by Simon Anholt measures countries by their contribution before setting a final score of how “Good” they are. So how “Good” are we? Well, despite being rather let down by our rating on International Peace and Security (which even at 94th is better rated than troublemakers such as the Netherlands or Sweden) the UK emerges in good form, with the UK making key contributions to the world in terms of  Culture, World Order and stability, and Health and Wellbeing. The UK receives its top marks for Science and Technology, coming in at No.1 in the world based on overwhelmingly high scores on Journal Exports, International Publications and Nobel Prizes.

For publishers this is something of a confirmation rather than a surprise. Like a middleweight effortlessly dancing around less mobile opponents the UK industry has shown that it punches well above its international weight.

The UK has long been noted for the strength of its publishing industry. With UK publishers catering to every possible product, everything from Holmes and Watson to Watson and Crick, the sheer scale and diversity of our achievements as an industry can often be overlooked. Publishing isn’t just about the latest beach paperback but plays a massive role in the scientific and technological development of the entire planet. And, as it’s been noted, the UK excels at this.

The PA’s Statistics Yearbook 2014 shows the huge importance of areas such as journal publishing. When examined the picture emerges of an innovative, growing, technologically advanced industry, investing in new areas and new methods. This importance can be seen in the numbers involved. Out of an industry with around 27,000 direct employees, around 2,200 publishing staff work directly on journals and the market is worth approximately £1bn a year to UK publishing, a fifth of the total value.

It is also of course very much part of an international trade. The last two years have also seen a 4% rise in subscription income while at the same time the number of research articles published globally every year is growing at a rate of around 5%. With the international nature of the market meaning that the bulk of a journal or article’s circulation and audience will be based outside the UK out of the £1bn in revenue that journal publishing represents, only 5% of this comes from the UK.

At a time when the UK’s role in international affairs from the EU to the Middle East is being thrown into question this report brings some comfort that, in publishing at least, we are literally world class.