Value of UK publishing industry increases 5% to £5.7bn


Published Thursday 19th July 2018.

The UK publishing industry had a record-breaking year in 2017, with income up 5% to £5.7bn, according to new figures released today by the Publishers Association.

The industry is already the number one exporter of books in the world and export income rose a further 8% to £3.4bn in 2017, accounting for 60% of total revenues.

Other highlights from the Publishers Association Publishing Yearbook 2017 include:

  • Total book sales income (Physical and digital books) is up 4% to £3.7bn
  • Total digital sales income (Digital books and journals) is up 3% to £1.8bn
  • Total physical book sales income is up 5% to £3.1bn  
  • Total journal sales income is up 5% to £1.6bn
  • Total journal export income is up 5% to £1.4bn 

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association said: 

“These figures reveal another stellar performance from the UK publishing industry. From blockbuster novels to the textbooks and research papers which shape our thinking, today’s statistics prove that society’s love of books in all forms shows no sign of waning.

“Publishers are catering to modern consumers who are reading books in different formats across different platforms, but still showing a very significant attachment to the printed word, as we continue to see the resilience and popularity of print across publishing sectors.

“Export income has increased significantly and this increase is testament to the high regard UK publishers, authors and their work are held in around the world – and the continued appetite of readers for them.”

Where is growth in exports seen? 
  • There has been an increase in exports of both physical and digital books, up 7% to £1.6bn.
  • Export sales income from journals has increased by 5% to £1.4bn.
  • Rights, coeditions and licensing export income is £407m.
  • There has been an 11% increase (to £284m) in the export sales income of non-fiction/reference physical and digital books.
  • Sales of physical books to Europe increased 13% to £489m, and to East and South Asia by 8% to £248m.
  • Digital school book sales export income has risen by 93% to £10m. 
  • Export sales income from journals rose 10% to £565m in North America, which is the largest international market for journals – accounting for 41% of the export market. 
How are digital sales doing?
  • Total digital sales income (Digital books and journals) is up 3% to £1.8bn.
  • Digital book sales income is down 2% to £543m.
  • Audiobook sales have risen 25% to £31m.
  • The sale of school digital books is up 32% to £27m, suggesting that the use of digital teaching resources is becoming more prevalent.
  • Non-fiction total digital book sales have increased by 4% to £50m, suggesting consumers are increasingly reading non-fiction, cookbooks, illustrated books and reference books on their devices.
How is consumer publishing performing?
  • Fiction sales income (physical and digital) is up 3% to £547m.
  • Non-fiction/reference sales income (physical and digital) is up 4% to £928m.
  • Home non-fiction/reference physical book sales income is up 2% to £620m.
  • There is an uplift in hardback fiction book sales income, up 31% to £97m.
  • Children’s total physical and digital book sales income is down 3% to £341m.
How is education publishing performing?
  • There was a 3% drop in overall physical and digital school book sales income to £324m.
  • While domestic sales for physical school books are down 12% to £158m, there was a rise of 2% in export physical school book sales to £93m.
  • Overall digital school book sales performed better than physical, with domestic sales income up 12% to £17m and export sales income up 93% to £10m.
  • Total ELT physical and digital book sales are up 13% to £293m – with physical sales up 13% to £20m and digital sales up 13% to 20m.
How is academic publishing performing? 
  • Physical and digital academic and professional book sales income is up 6% to £1.2bn. 
  • Journal sales income is up 5% to £1.6bn.
  • There is an increase in sales income for social science/humanities (SSH) physical books, up 9% (to £693m), and scientific/technical/medical (STM) physical books, up 8% to £250m.
  • Total income from Open Access charges is up 21% to £148m.