Publishers Association logo
UK publishing sector 'star export and productivity performer'

UK publishing sector ‘star export and productivity performer’

New independent research has shown that the British publishing industry generates up to £7.8bn GVA for the wider UK economy and supports more than 70,000 jobs in direct, indirect and induced impact.

The research – produced by Frontier Economics for The Publishers Association and to be launched this week - shows that 57% of total publishing turnover (£2.9bn) comes from export revenues. 70% of these exports are to countries outside the EU, principally North America (17%) and East and South Asia (14%).

Currently more than half of wider UK exports go to Europe, suggesting that the publishing industry is outperforming other sectors when it comes to developing global trade.

The UK remains the largest exporter of physical books in the world, with a 17% share of world exports, more than the United States (16%), Germany (10%) and China (8%). The industry’s exports generate a £1.1bn trade surplus annually, reducing the UK’s trade deficit by 2.2%.

The publishing industry directly employs 29,000 people in the UK. The GVA figure per worker in publishing stands at £112,800, more than twice the national average of £49,100 and more than professionals working in newspaper publishing (£51,500) and IT software and services (£81,400).

Since 2012, UK publishing gross value added (GVA) has increased by 19% - faster than the growth of the UK economy as a whole (15%). UK publishing companies play a critical role in supporting British bookshops, which employ 12,000 people and generate £1 billion in turnover.

Academic publishing is becoming increasingly important to the sector’s overall performance, generating the majority of the industry’s turnover growth since 2010.  More than £1.1 billion of export revenues are derived from academic book and journal sales, up 5% from 2015.

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of The Publishers Association, said:

“The UK is a global publishing superpower. We have a great export story to tell, with sales to North America and Asia seeing double-digit growth and more and more global markets expanding for books and journals alike. With productivity more than double the national average, publishing has embraced the digital revolution and is an exemplar of UK innovation at its best.

“Our sector has developed a highly specialised workforce, invests heavily in new authors and intellectual property, and is renowned across the world for the quality of its content.

“We are a model of what post-Brexit industry could look like – international, globally focused, and highly productive. Though other sectors may be bigger, government must not overlook the needs of industries like ours, too.”

The full report can be accessed here.

Further information

Kate Moffat, Senior Director                                                              Laura Vaughan, Senior Consultant

020 3727 1175                                                                                     020 3727 1509                                               

Notes to Editors

  1. The Publishers Association is the leading trade organisation serving book, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK. Membership comprises 120 companies from across the trade, academic and education sectors. More information is available from
  2. Frontier Economics is Europe’s leading economic consulting firm. We specialise in the application of innovative analytical techniques to deliver robust analysis of a wide range of policies and regulatory frameworks. Our clients include governments across Europe, the wider public sector, charities and private sector firms. Our analysis is in line with HM Treasury appraisal and evaluation guidelines set out in the Green Book and Magenta Book. Particular areas of expertise include economic growth, social welfare analysis (cost-benefit analysis of policies and programmes and ex post evaluation of interventions), critical evaluation of evidence and the design of policies and regulatory frameworks.
  3. The Frontier Economics report defines the publishing industry as ‘traditional enterprises engaged in book publishing and academic journal publishing, whether or not it is their primary activity’. The research excludes newspaper, magazine and periodicals publishing; self-publishing; music publishing; software and computer games publishing; directories and mailing lists; and advertising. It also excludes the economic contribution of parts of the wider publishing industry supply chain, including authors agents, retailers, and content creation by authors and academics. See p.5 of the report for further information.