Facts and Figures about the state of Publishing: Part 1

This is a bit of a random pot of ten statistics regarding the state of publishing today taken from the recent IBIS World report with very, very limited thoughts attached.

There’s little in the way of rhyme or reason to the structure of this post, but hopefully you’ll find some tidbits of interest in it.

  1. The Publishing Industry in 2018-19 is estimated to have a revenue of £5.9bn, with a profit of £658.5m. That’s a lot of money. (See, told you these comments weren’t going to be particularly deep…)
  2. Internet Retailers are the largest and fastest growing bookselling market: the term, ‘no shit, Sherlock’ may come to mind, but it’s important to consider that ‘internet retailer’ does go beyond Amazon…more on this in a future article.
  3. Following strong e-book sales at the start of the period, many publishers have reported declining sales in recent years I think this leads to some interesting questions as to whether the big 5  will give more consideration into entering into markets like Kindle Unlimited, which they have so far chosen to stay away from…
  4. According to The Financial Times, six of the seven top-selling non-fiction paperbacks in 2015 were colouring books. Wow. Ok, maybe I need a little more commentary than that, but really? While I’ve never got the appeal of those books, I was aware of their popularity, but to THAT degree. That little stat surprised me, I must say…
  5. The merger of Penguin and Random House in July 2013 resulted in the creation of Penguin Random House, the largest trade publisher in the world. Now while that in itself is not big or new news – it was 2013, for goodness sake, one of the things that does tend to surprise people, and which I cover in my publishing workshop, is exactly how many of the ‘brands’ the big 5 own. As the chart below shows (taken from https://almossawi.com/) Image result for penguin random house imprints
  6. One in five e-books purchased in the United Kingdom in 2015 was self-published. I’ll just let that one sit there in terms of what that means for those thinking about getting into self-publishing. If you think that only ‘real authors’ or ‘real publishers’ or any other ‘real’ you might think about, can get books bought, facts like this should get you back to your keyboard and start working…
  7. Self-published titles rose from 16% of the e-book market by volume in 2014 to over a fifth of the market in 2015… if point 6 didn’t quite resonate, let me use Nielson Bookscan’s stat to reinforce that. Why are you still reading this? Why aren’t you writing?
  8. The Book Publishing industry is in the mature stage of its life cycle. That might appear obvious – it’s been around long enough of course. But from a business point of view, if you look at what a life cycle looks like, then that’s particularly relevant – especially when you bring the e-book model into the equation. If this were a business article I would go on, and on and on about what the opportunities and challenges of extending a life cycle look like. But as a headline: publishing is mature. (‘Mature‘ heheheheh. umm, unlike this comment.)
  9. The trade fiction segment is estimated to generate 17.4% of industry revenue. Does that figure surprise? Expect it to be higher? Lower? Keep in mind fiction paperbooks are the cheapest books out there (Have you ever visited a ‘Works‘ bookshop???
  10. The most popular trade fiction book of 2017 was The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Does that surprise you? It surprises me a bit. I haven’t read it – seeing it on supermarket shelves it looked to me like another Girl on the Train type book – I don’t mean that negatively at all, so make of it what you will. Harlan Coben says it is ‘Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page’ …but I tend to take anything Harlan recommends with a pinch of salt, much like Stephen King: I love both those guy’s books, but their recommendations…hmmm. Stephen King thought The Chalk Man was great which I found a derivative piece (although I did think it was derivative of his work so make of that what you will…). Taking a quick look I see it’s got over 1,750 reviews at the time of writing this: 53% 5 star 7% 1 star, so clearly it’s getting read not just bought by a whole bunch of people.

Well, that’s ten facts…if that’s of any interest, I may just return for a part 2 of more fun facts around the publishing industry. Let me know.



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