The weak dollar did little to help American book exports in 2004, but during the year China further cemented its lead as the largest offshore manufacturer for American books. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce, total book exports rose 2.8% last year, to $1.74 billion, while imports from China jumped 29.2%, to $533.5 million. Total imports rose 10.2%, to $1.93 billion.
Canada remained America's largest foreign market for books in 2004, with exports rising 4.7%, to $812.8 million, while the United Kingdom stayed firmly in second place, with shipments up 5.3%, to $289.2 million. Exports were up modestly to all but two of the country's top overseas markets, falling 3% to Mexico and 20.2% to Germany. Experts expect that if the dollar remains weak, making U.S. books cheaper abroad, exports should show a more robust gain in 2005.
In terms of categories, most of the major subject areas had gains in the year. Exports of hardcover trade books jumped 28.5% in the year, to $146.6 million, while exports of textbooks increased 13.2%, to $402.1 million. Exports of paperbacks increased 9.6%, to $228.9 million, and professional book exports rose 5.5%, to $391.5 million. The biggest decline was in the "other" book segment where sales fell 17%, to $402 million. Among the other book segments where exports dropped were art and picture books, encyclopedias and dictionaries.
China's huge increase in book manufacturing in 2004 put further distance between itself and the U.K., which was the second largest exporter of books to the U.S. (U.S. exports to China rose 16.9%, to $18.1 million.) U.K. exports were $304.6 million in 2004, and unlike China most U.K. exports are of U.K. titles, not U.S. titles printed there. Exports from Canada rose 5.2%, to $275.0 million, but fell 2%, to $189.8 million, from Hong Kong.
U.S. Book Exports, 2003—2004 ($ in millions)
|Source: U.S. Commerce Department |
|Total, Top 10||$1,434.2||$1,498.8||4.5%|