Book exports rose 1.2% in 2010, to just over $2 billion, according to data compiled by the U.S. Commerce Department, while imports increased 5.8%, to $1.85 billion. Because of federal cutbacks, full-year breakdowns by book category are not yet available, and there is some question as to how the Commerce Department will conduct the statistics program in the future.
Industry analyst Al Greco observed that the lack of timely statistics could hamper the Commerce Department's efforts to encourage exports of all products, including books. "This could pose a serious problem for publishers trying to examine where exports are going," Greco said, wondering how the government could be encouraging exports but not supply data. While the export figures have some flaws—any shipments under $2,500, for instance, are estimated—they do provide an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of different markets.
In 2010, the Commerce Department estimated that book exports to Canada rose 2.8%, to $960.3 million, keeping Canada the largest overseas book market by a wide margin. The largest increases were to India and China, but the gains to those two countries followed declines in 2009, and last year's exports were still below the high point reached in 2007 when shipments to India totaled $40 million and exports to China hit $29.7 million.
Books imported from China rebounded in 2010 after falling in 2009, rising 13.5%, to $807.1 million. Imports from Canada fell for the second consecutive year, declining 14.3%, to $201 million, and putting Canada behind the U.K., which was the second largest source for imports to the U.S. Last year, imports from the U.K. rose 8.7%, to $212.5 million. Imports are a mix of books manufactured abroad and original titles.
Book Exports, 2009-2010 ($ in millions)
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