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 Contribution of the Publishing Industry to the UK Economy – 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.