The total invoiced value (or publishers' sales to accounts) of U.K. publisher sales rose to £6.3 billion in 2019, 4% higher than in 2018 and 20% higher than in 2015, making 2019 the biggest year ever for U.K. publishing. The Publishers Association’s new figures, released in its annual "Yearbook" report, shows growth in both print and digital sales. The significance of export sales is underlined by the report: exports accounted for 59% of total sales.
Other headline facts include: print sales up 3% to £3.5 billion; digital sales up 4% to £2.8 billion; home sales up 4% to £2.4 billion; export sales up 3% to £3.7 billion; consumer audiobook downloads sales up 39% to £97 million, and nonfiction and reference sales up to 6% to £1 billion.
Commenting on the figures, PA CEO Stephen Lotinga said: "Before the coronavirus pandemic the UK’s publishing industry was flourishing with 2019 being the strongest year in the history of publishing. These robust figures reflect people’s ongoing need and desire for books.
"The UK publishing industry was on course to be worth £10 billion by 2030 before coronavirus, but that will only happen now if the government properly supports our recovery. This means ensuring there is a fair market for books - particularly support for bookshops, avoiding a no-deal Brexit and providing vital funding for schools and universities so they can buy the education resources that students need to learn remotely."
The PA split the figures into four key sub-sets. Consumer publishing saw total sales across print and digital rise 3.5% to £2 billion. Within that, print sales rose 3.3% to £1.6 billion and digital (e-books and audiobook downloads) sales increased 4.6% to £336 million. However, fiction sales were down 1.1% to £582 million. Export sales made up 32% of consumer sales in 2019, with Australia consumer publishing’s biggest export market.
In the other segments, academic publishing saw total sales from academic and professional books and journals combined up by 1.3%, to £3.3 billion. Educational publishing sales from education books (school and English Language Teaching combined) up by 12.7% in 2019, to £657 million. In the final sector, export, sales were up 3.3% over 2018 to £3.7 billion. Europe is the largest export region for printed books and accounted for 36% of the invoiced value of exports.
A version of this story first appeared in BookBrunch.