A first-of-its-kind report examining the economic impact of the city’s various publishing sectors developed by New York City’s Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment determined that in 2020, the industry supported a total of 95,000 jobs, $11 billion in wages, and $34 billion in economic output.
The report, called the "2022 Publishing Industry Economic Impact Study," breaks down the industry into four sectors: publishers (including book publishers), talent (content creators), print production, and distribution and consumption (including bookstores). According to the study, book publishers generated $9.2 billion of economic output in 2020, ahead of the other publishing sub-sectors: periodical publishers ($6.3 billion); internet publishers ($2.8 billion); and newspaper publishers (2.5 billion). The report defines economic output as sales to consumers and business-to-business spending within the industry.
The average New York book publishing salary was pegged at $119,000 in 2020, lower than the average salary in periodical publishing ($148,000) and newspaper publishing ($124,000), but higher than the average New York City salary of $99,00.
The number of people employed in New York publishing houses dipped by 1.7% between 2010 and 2020, falling to 11,500. The report noted that while consolidation among the large publishers likely meant a loss of jobs (Random House’s purchase of Penguin took place in 2013), that was countered by a growing independent press segment. The report noted that independent publishers are attracted to New York because of the city’s network of publishing and writing programs and talent; a dynamic literary scene; and access to the Big 5, who often handle distribution for the indie houses.
The book publishing job market fared much better than the periodical publishing sector, where the number of jobs tumbled 45% between 2010 and 2020, falling to 13,700, and newspaper publishers, where employment fell 20%, to 7,100.
The report also examined the impact the pandemic had on the city’s publishing industries. For book publishers, employment fell 4.9% between January 2020 and August 2020, and was down 7.7% between January 2020 and June 2021. Book publishing fared better than periodical publishers, where employment dropped 12.2% from January 2020 to June 2021, and newspaper publishers, where the employee count fell 10.4%. The report noted that the employees who are working remotely count as NYC employees unless their employers ends their leases in the city.
Bookstores and Booksellers
The average wage of New York booksellers is far below that of book publishers, coming in at $39,000. The number of people working in New York bookselling plunged 56% between 2010 and 2020, dropping to 1,400. New York’s bookselling segment was particularly hammered during the first eight months of the pandemic, when the number of employees fell 42.5%. Employment levels improved somewhat between August 2020 and June 2021, though the number of bookstore employees was still down 37.1% from January 2020.
Among the recommendations the report suggests the city should consider to help promote independent bookstores was the recently launched Rediscover Your Local Bookstores campaign, a part of NYC & Company’s ‘All in NYC’ holiday shopping marketing campaign. A 2022 updated list of independent booksellers is now available, and the campaign is now live digitally and on billboards all over NYC.
On a broader level, the report proposes to promote NYC as a World Book Capital by applying for the city to be designated as the first UNESCO World Book Capital in the U.S. The report also recommends facilitating connections among NYC publishing stakeholders by exploring partnerships with the Pulitzer Prize Board, National Book Awards, and National Magazine Awards to highlight and make connections between NYC’s publishing businesses, artists, and smaller literary organizations.