The combined print and ebook sales of UK publishers fell by 2% in 2014, to £3.3bn, according to the new edition of the PA Statistics Yearbook.
Print sales were down 5%, to £2.7bn. Digital sales rose 11%, to £563m. The numbers on ebook sales were not a "plateauing," as has been reported in some quarters, but a less steep rise than that recorded in 2013 (19%). Ebook sales accounted for 17% of the total. (The volume percentage, not recorded in the Yearbook, would be considerably higher.)
Total sales in the home market were down 3%, to £1.9bn, while export sales recorded only a slight decline, at £1.4bn.
The Yearbook echoes the good news about children's books reported in other surveys: total children's book sales were up 11%, to £349m, with physical sales up 10%, and digital sales up 36%. At £22m, however, children's ebook sales remained only a modest percentage of the total. (These figures, unlike Nielsen BookScan's, include the sales of John Green's publishing phenomenon The Fault in Our Stars.)
School books were the only other genre to show a sales increase (up 1%). There were declines in fiction (down 4%), non-fiction (9%), ELT (4%), and academic and professional (1%).
Publishers' journal sales were up 3%, to just over £1bn, putting the overall size of the UK book and journals sector at £4.3bn.
Publishers Association chief executive Richard Mollet 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.
Mollett continued: "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."
The Yearbook is based on the Publishers Association Statistics Monitor, administered by Nielsen. The Monitor collects home and export (and physical and digital) sales data from publishers representing about 75% of UK publishers' sales. The figures are rounded up for the Yearbook, to represent the full industry.
Nielsen's Books & Consumers survey, recording print and ebook sales in the UK consumer market, reported a 3% rise in sales in 2014. Nielsen BookScan, recording print book sales through UK retailers' tills, recorded a 2% decline.
This article is adapted from a piece that originally appeared in the U.K. publication, BookBrunch.