Book Publishing in the UK Industry Market Research Report Now Updated by IBISWorld

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The UK Book Publishing industry was faced with falling revenue over the past five years through 2013-14 due to weak consumer confidence and consumer spending negatively affecting book sales. Improving economic conditions and the growing influence of e-books should see industry revenue return to modest growth over the next five year through 2018-19.

IBISWorld industry market research
Rekindling demand: Improving economic conditions and digital books boosts revenue

The UK Book Publishing industry includes all business involved in the publishing of books in print or audio form or on the internet. Publishers of similar products such as leaflets, atlases and maps are also involved in the industry. The United Kingdom is home to some of the oldest and most respected book publishers in the world. In fact, Cambridge University Press is the world's oldest publisher and has been operating continuously since 1584. A good reputation and strong local copyright laws have made the United Kingdom the biggest exporter of books in the world.

The Book Publishing industry is expected to generate revenue of £4.1 billion in 2013-14, up 0.5% from the previous year. The industry is export-oriented, with exports accounting for 41.4% of revenue. The local industry is expected to employ about 25,500 people in 2013-14. Industry revenue is estimated to have decreased at a compound annual rate of 2.6% over the five years through 2013-14. Weak consumer confidence and consumer spending negatively affect consumer book sales. According to IBISWorld industry analyst Andrew Johnson, “growth in electronic book (e-book) sales has started to erode sales of physical books”. While an e-book usually sells for less than a comparable physical book, e-book profit margins are higher. Schoolbook sales have been, and expected to continue to be, influenced by a decline in the number of school students due to demographic factors. Book sales to the university market have strengthened in response to an increase in total university enrolments (and in full-time enrolments). Government funding pressures are expected to adversely affect education book sales. Imports are expected to gain market share over the period, although growth in book exports will partly compensate for this.

Johnson adds, “industry revenue is forecast to return to growth over the five years through 2018-19 as economic conditions are expected to improve, which will promote consumer book sales”. There are a number of opportunities and risks for industry operators. Digital (or electronic) books can help reduce industry costs, provide new distribution options and bolster profit margins. However, the industry needs to grapple with the interests of other players in the supply chain that may seek to take on bigger roles in the publication and distribution of physical books and e-books, which is likely to help shape the structure of the industry over the coming years.

The top four companies in the Book Publishing industry are estimated to account for about 40.7% of industry revenue in 2012-13, giving the industry a medium level of market share concentration. The degree of concentration has increased since 2007-08 when the same four players accounted for about 27.9% of the market. The top publishing companies have been able to boost revenue with some key major titles and the recent acceleration in growth of the e-book market. Major companies include Pearson, Hachette UK, HarperCollins Publishers, The Random House Group & Reed Elsevier. In 2013-14 the level of concentration in the industry is expected to increase as a result of the anticipated merger between the Pearson’s Penguin Group and Random House.

For more information on the Book Publishing industry, including latest industry trends, statistics, analysis and market share information, purchase the full report from IBISWorld, the nation’s largest publisher of industry research.

IBISWorld industry Report Key Topics

Businesses in this industry are involved in the publishing of books in print, electronic or audio form or on the internet. The category includes all books, leaflets, atlases and maps. The industry excludes the activities of independent authors, publishing of advertising material and the publishing of sheet music.

Industry Performance
Executive Summary
Key External Drivers
Current Performance
Industry Outlook
Industry Life Cycle
Products & Markets
Supply Chain
Products & Services
Major Markets
Globalisation & Trade
Business Locations
Competitive Landscape
Market Share Concentration
Key Success Factors
Cost Structure Benchmarks
Barriers to Entry
Major Companies
Operating Conditions
Capital Intensity
Key Statistics
Industry Data
Annual Change
Key Ratios

About IBISWorld

Recognised as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on many UK industries. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in London, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organisations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit or call (020) 3008 6568.

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Gavin Smith
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