Latest PA Figures Show Digital Innovation Driving Publisher Revenues

    Figures released today by The Publishers Association reveal the UK publishing industry to be maintaining its strength, diversity and innovation.  Overall book and academic journal sales remain steady at £4.3billion with digital revenues growing to 35% of the overall total.  Export sales now account for 44% of revenue.

    Academic journals lead the way in digital publishing with electronic journals now accounting for 79% of all subscription income.  Consumer fiction remains hot on its heels with ebook sales increasing to 37% of total value and trebling in absolute terms in three years.

    Such digital strength is also now being seen across other areas of publishing.  2014 saw significant increases in digital sales in:

    – Children’s books (up 36%) – with the sector up 11% overall;
    – Academic textbooks (up 17%) now at 24% of sector sales;
    – Audiobook downloads (up 24%);
    – Educational materials for schools (up 20%).

    Overseas demand for UK-published material remains strong with export sales of children’s fiction experiencing an increase of 28% on the previous year.  Across the board, exports account for 44% of total revenue with English Language Teaching materials remaining the UK’s strongest export performer by unit volume.  The Middle East/North Africa and East & South-East Asia regions were the areas of strongest growth at 8% and 14% respectively.

    However, The PA figures also reveal a 2% decline in overall book sales with non-fiction and reference books showing the biggest drop of 8.5%.

    Commenting on the statistics Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The Publishers Association, said:

    “It is great to see digital growth continuing and developing in more sectors of publishing.  The rise in children’s digital sales, while perhaps unsurprising given 71% of households now own a tablet, is testament to the innovation taking place in children’s publishing and the engaging content being produced. 

    “20% growth in digital spend by schools is also extremely welcome but the fact that this still represents only 4% of the total school book budget gives pause for thought.  We need to work with the next Government to help drive the take-up of digital materials in the classroom.

    “Academic publishing remains a great success story for the UK and a showcase for how publishing is not only responding to the digital challenge but leading the way.  With 93% of customers accessing their journal content electronically and digital sales now accounting for a quarter of total sales in the academic and professional book market, ‘digital’ is now fully embedded in our businesses.

    “The big debate for publishing is no longer about electronic – versus – print, because the clear answer is “both”; but the real question now is about demonstrating the strength and value of publishers’ curated and valuable content, in a world where unfiltered information is becoming more and more widespread.

    “These figures also point to the importance of being diverse both in terms of format and international markets, so that opportunities can bemaximised and risked minimised.”

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