Book Sales Increase As People Rediscover Their Love Of Reading During Lockdown

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The invoiced value of UK publisher sales of books, journals and rights/co-editions combined rose 2% to £6.4 billion in 2020. UK sales income rose 4% to £2.5 billion while export sales income remained unchanged year-on-year at £3.7 billion.

Key findings include:

  • Total print down 6% to £3.4 billion
  • Total digital up 12% to £3 billion
  • Total consumer publishing sales income rose 7% to £2.1 billion
  • Fiction up 16% to £688 million
  • Non-fiction up 4% to £1 billion
  • Audio downloads up 37% to £133 million
  • Children’s up 2% to £396 million

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association:

“Publishing has proved incredibly resilient throughout the significant challenges of 2020. It’s clear that many people rediscovered their love of reading last year and that publishers were able to deliver the entertaining and thought-provoking books that so many of us needed.
“Despite the positive overall performance of the publishing industry, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that it’s been a particularly challenging year for education publishers and many smaller publishers. It’s also been a hugely difficult time for many booksellers and authors whose livelihoods have been enormously disrupted.
“With bookshops now able to reopen, and physical events returning, we are optimistic that people will soon be able to enjoy books together again. We need to harness this return to reading and build on the huge opportunity this presents to everyone.”

How did consumer publishing perform?

  • Total consumer publishing income £2.1 billion (up 7%)
  • UK market £1.5 billion (up 9%)
  • Export market £675 million (up 4%)
  • Print £1.7 billion (up 4%)
  • Digital £418 million (up 24%)

How did education publishing perform?

  • Total education publishing income £528 million (down 21%)
  • UK market £176 million (down 5%)
  • Export market £351 million (down 27%)
  • Print £461 million (down 24%)
  • Digital £67 million (up 8%)

How did academic publishing perform?

  • Total academic publishing income £3.3 billion (up 3%)
  • Books £1 billion (down 5%)
  • Journals £2.3 billion (up 6%)
  • Home market £906 million (no change)
  • Export market £2.4 billion (up 3%)
  • Print £861 million (down 13%)
  • Digital £2.5 billion (up 9%)

The full report – Publishing in 2020 – is available to read here.

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