BookMachine’s January Book News

January Book News

Here is my monthly round-up of book news from the publishing industry. Do let me know if you think I’ve missed anything important.

With a new year comes new books, and an opportunity to reset and review how we work. This year bookshops globally will be feeling the pinch of the pandemic though, and many of us across the book trade wondering what another year without in-person meetings might look like.

Books have generally withstood Covid-19 restrictions. In the US print sales have soared in 2021 by 22.7% for the week ending 16th January, against the same period in 2021. Nielsen BookScan estimated that the print market across Britain in 2020 rose by 5.2% in volume and 5.5% in value when compared to 2019. In Ireland the book market has reported a 7.8% increase in volume and 9.5% increase in sales year-on-year, for the same period.  

In the Southern District of New York, a law firm filed a class action suit against Amazon this month, accusing the company of colluding with the Big Five publishers to restrain price competition in the e-book market. This is the second e-book price-fixing suit in a decade.

Although book sales have increased overall during 2020, education publishers in the UK have reported a decrease in sales in the secondary schools market. There is an uncertainty around what new testing processes might replace standard GCSE, AS and A-Level exams this summer, and therefore teachers aren’t sure which resources are needed yet.  

Arts Council England (ACE) reported this month that there had been a 146% increase in demand for digital stock at libraries during the pandemic. It now is awarding £152,000 to help public libraries buy e-books and digital audio products.

Despite a toughening of coronavirus restrictions in Scotland, bookshops are still able to offer click and collect services as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon branded books “essential items”. 

22 book prizes were announced this month as part of the American Library Association Youth Media Awards. Telephone Tales (from Italy) won the Mildred L Batchelder Award for a children’s book from a non-English language in a market outside the United States translated to English for publication in the States.

This month it was announced that Monique Roffey won £30,000 at the UK’s Costa 2020 Book of the Year Award. The last 10 Costa Book of the Year winners alone have gone on to sell a combined total of just over 1.8 million copies.

Would you like to share any of your own book news? Please leave comments below.

Laura Summers runs BookMachine, the fast-growing community and agency specialising in book publishing. Their mission is to provide every publishing professional with knowledge, ideas and connections to help them to progress in their careers.

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  1. Interesting to read that there is an increase in book sales. I hope this continues into 2021. It will be interesting also to see if this trend continues when bookshops and libraries reopen. As an illustrator I have been very busy with projects in the children’s book sector. This may be because schools are closed and there is more home learning happening. It’s very encouraging to see that books have withstood an economic decline during the pandemic.

    1. Hi @josy – that’s great to read that you have been busy with projects in the children’s book sector. Never have books been quite as important as now for children (as they have less real-world experiences to draw on). We’ve all been admiring your work on your website here! You are super talented!

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