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Strong year for UK publishing industry as it grows to £4.4bn

New figures released on Friday by the Publishers Association shows that the UK publishing industry is in good health with total sales of book and journal publishing up to £4.4bn in 2015. The figures also revealed that the UK’s love affair with the printed book is far from over as for the first time since the invention of the ebook, overall physical book sales increased while digital sales decreased.

Top stats from the research include:

  • Sales of physical books from publishers increased for the first time in four years while digital sales fell for the first time since The PA started collecting figures
  • Export revenues dropped slightly by 3% to £1.42bn with education, academic and ELT (English Language Teaching) accounting for two thirds of this
  • There was particularly strong growth in sales of physical non-fiction/reference books which saw sales increase by 9% to £759m
  • Academic journal publishing also continued strongly up by 5% to £1.1bn with digital revenues accounting for 95% of this
  • School books sales were up overall by 9% to £319m with growth in physical and digital both home and abroad.
  • Audiobook downloads had another good year with 29% growth in 2015.
Commenting, The Publishers Association Chief Executive, Stephen Lotinga, said: “These figures show that the UK publishing industry continues to go from strength to strength and the UK’s love for print is far from over. “Digital continues to be an incredibly important part of the industry, but it would appear there remains a special place in the consumer’s heart for the aesthetic pleasure that printed books can bring. “UK publishing leads the world in terms of exports, but the small drop last year is a reminder of the importance of having certainty in the relationships with our most important markets. “2015 was a great year for learned journals sales and demonstrates the strength of academic publishers in driving new innovative business models that contribute towards maintaining the UK’s position as a hub of global research excellence. “The performance of educational publishers, who saw increased sales across all formats, both at home and overseas, is testament to the outstanding learning resources the UK continues to create. “Whether it be the latest fiction bestseller, our world renowned scientific journals or textbooks for the classroom, the UK publishing industry continues to punch well above its weight. At a time when the Government is looking for world leading sectors to drive growth in the UK economy, they could do a lot worse than look to the success of our publishing industry.” Ed Vaizey MP, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, said: “The UK’s publishing industry is a huge success story, and I’m delighted the sector is continuing to flourish. The publishing industry contributes £10.2bn a year to the UK economy, and these latest figures are welcome news, particularly in a year when we’re celebrating one of the UK’s most famous literary exports, William Shakespeare.”
2017 in review

All the facts and stats from the UK Children’s Summit

For the first time this year, Nielsen Book held a UK Children’s Summit at London Book Fair, covering the incredible growth we’ve seen in Children’s sales worldwide over the past two years, and will hopefully continue to see. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking and talking about book sales data, I couldn’t pick a better subject to present on right now than the children’s market. Since my first foray to the LBF in 2013, the children’s market has taken a turn for the better – after steadily declining from 2009 to 2013, revenue grew 9.5% in 2014, even as adult fiction and non-fiction continued to decline. Sales in 2015 improved even further, up 5.3% to £309m, marking last year as the highest year for Children’s since BookScan records began. And it wasn’t just one category, or one author, or one publisher. The three largest categories (Children’s Fiction, Picture Books and Novelty & Activity Books) all saw growth, as did the majority of top publishers. Even more impressive, 2016 sales to the end of March are already up 7.4% compared to the first three months of 2015, pointing toward 2016 being another excellent year. The strength of Children’s Fiction in particular continues to amaze me – value sales grew 11.3% in 2015, and so far in 2016 the category has gone up another 10% in quarter one, topping £20m. Last year, 14 of the top 20 authors were in growth, with the top 20 taking about half of fiction sales. It’s a combination of new and old driving this – David Walliams’ latest Grandpa’s Great Escape was the highest selling children’s title for the last five years, but then we also see J.K. Rowling moving back up the ranks. The new illustrated Harry Potter contributed to her moving from the eighth largest children’s fiction author in 2014 to the third in 2015, and in the first few months of 2016, she’s moved into first. Contrary to the other large categories, Young Adult Fiction saw a bit of a decline in 2015 (down 5.3%), but there were still some positives – half of the top twenty authors showed increased sales, including Zoe Sugg in first and Terry Pratchett in second. Actually, the top ten YA titles made more money in 2015 than in 2014 (£7.9m vs £7.0m), with 25% of revenue coming from those top ten, led by Girl Online 2: On Tour. We also saw value growth beyond the top 100 titles, and more debut authors earning over £100k than in the previous year, pointing to plenty of future potential in the YA sector. It’s not just the UK that’s seeing extensive growth in Children’s – of the ten countries we measure through BookScan, only Australia was in decline in 2015, after a really strong 2014. Interestingly, when you look at the breakdown of the market in each country, Australia has the largest share taken by Children’s, at 44% of volume sales, closely followed by New Zealand at 42%. In the UK, Children’s takes about 34% of volume sales and 24% of value, which has grown from only 15% back in 2001, and only 21% as recently as 2012, all pointing to the continuing strength of print in the Children’s market. Jaclyn Swope is a Publisher Account Manager on the Book Research team at Nielsen BookScan, where she assists a variety of publishers with understanding and utilising both retail sales and consumer data, through training sessions, presentations and bespoke analysis of book industry trends.

Colouring-in books: not the novel idea now

Returning from the Christmas holidays it seemed as if the whole of twitter and his dog had a shiny new adult colouring-in book except for me. With the help of Huck & Pucker, we quickly put that right, and by 5th January, there I was: sat on my sofa on a Friday night colouring away in ‘Keep Calm and Colour for Mums’ – a hobby which will apparently help relaxation, combat stress and improve concentration. It’s not just the twitterati who were gifted these therapeutic books, the adult colouring book craze has swept across the world. Toronto charity Story Planet charge customers $10 to colour, chat, and mingle in their shop for an evening. The events are selling out fast. Even IKEA has jumped on the bandwagon. You can now colour-in minimalist Swedish furniture from the comfort of your sofa. The images include everything from kitchenware to sofas, from potted plants to light fixtures. For those of you who find DIY quite stressful, this might be the perfect antidote after an afternoon of wedging screws into holes that don’t seem quite big enough. Publishers and booksellers have benefited from the craze, with demand driving up book sales by 2% at WHSmith this Christmas for the first time in over 12 years. Business isn’t limited to the physical book space, with Touch Press releasing a colouring-in app from author Millie Marotta, just two weeks ago. There are even young bloggers reviewing colouring-in books, in order to raise awareness of mental illness. Despite all of this, some question the supposed stress relieving qualities of colouring-in books. In Canada, a recent clinical study run over the course of three days, found that participants’ stress levels actually increased by 40 per cent while they were colouring. Levels of adrenaline, cortisol and noreprinephrine, the three major stress hormones, increased during the study. Dr. Renne Lynch, the leading researcher for the study, said that the stress increases she saw in the participants of the study were unhealthy. “When the body releases these hormones, it can be harmful, especially when you’re trying to relax”. Another study, led by Newcastle University, showed quite the opposite. It found that art therapy has greater benefits than puzzles and exercises when it comes to improving memory function. Engaging the brain in new and creative ways may be the key to a sharper ‘younger’ mind. With this in mind, Orion has published: ‘Draw your way to a younger brain’. It contains 30 intricate line drawings of safari animals, with space on the opposite page for copying. On completion, there’s even the opportunity to colour them in. Dr. Who fans will know that there’s no full series this year – there is a colouring-in book though, and a Doctor Who-themed dot-to-dot book. Not quite the novel experience fans are accustomed to. Is the colouring-in book here to stay? The verdict remains unclear.

Research shows only 49.3% of young people enjoy writing

New research by the National Literacy Trust shows that children and young people enjoy writing significantly less than reading. The report, Children’s and Young People’s Writing in 2014, sets out the findings of the National Literacy Trust’s fifth annual survey of more than 32,000 eight to and 18-year-olds. It found that while children’s enjoyment of writing has started to increase slowly over the past three years, they still enjoy writing less than reading (49.3% compared with 54.4%).

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Publishing 2020: an Advent Calendar of change

In the run up to Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine will be featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. This is a guest blog from Christopher Norris. Chris is editor and development executive for the Insight Film Festival. He also freelances as CopyGhosting Editorial Services. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@InsightFF and @chris24n) and keep up to date with the Insight Film Festival via the website’s news and blog items that he writes, edits and/or curates. As BookMachine celebrates 5 years of gazing into the book trade crystal ball, here is a personal collection of suggestions to generate debate that may happen if publishing ‘turkeys’ react positively to media trends and finally ‘vote for Christmas’:

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Reading For Pleasure

Reading For Pleasure Builds Empathy And Improves Well Being, New Research Finds

A recent report, carried out by The Reading Agency shows a positive correlation between reading for pleasure and increased empathy and improved relationships with others. The report, entitled ‘The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment’ surveys research from a range of age groups and as a result finds a number of benefits. These include improved social capital for children, young people and the general adult population; better parent-child communication and reduction of depression and dementia symptoms among adults.

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All About Comics – A photo/twitter blog

On Tuesday night, Tim Pilcher treated a packed room at the Phoenix Artist Club to an entertaining talk on comic books. Currently working as Humanoids’ UK Liaison and Chair of the Comic Book Alliance, Tim has been in comic book publishing for over 25 years and a go-to guru on the medium.

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Why you should never judge a comic book by its cover

Childish, too niche, corrupting our youth – the criticism against comic books has taken on many forms. But despite this, comic books are one of the few literary genres which have seen a rise in sales figures following the recession. At BookMachine’s latest event, Tim Pilcher walked us through the vindication of comic books, and why publishers need to join in on the fun. On Tuesday evening, Phoenix Artist Club was packed to the brim with publishing professionals eager to hear what Humanoid’s comic book guru Tim Pilcher had to say about the rise and redemption of comic books.

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The Girl on the Train shatters sales records

Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train has broken UK sales records this week, claiming its 20th consecutive week atop the hardback fiction bestseller lists. It overtakes Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which stayed at number one for 19 weeks following its release in September 2009, to become the longest reigning bestseller since Nielsen BookScan began monitoring sales in 2001. Not only has it stayed at the top of the hardback chart for longer than any other title, it is second only to Brown’s The Da Vinci Code – which stayed at number one in the paperback chart for a jaw-dropping 65 weeks – in most weeks held at the top of any book chart.

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Digital Business

Jam-packed report for internet-based business models

Dosdoce.com, a website renowned for analysing new technologies in the book world, have released a white paper outlining New business models for publishing houses, bookshops, libraries and distribution platforms.

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This report is definitely the most informative discussion of new business models on the Internet that you will read. It has been written specifically to help professionals in book-related industries design the best mix of business models to meet the needs of their customers. Javier Celaya, CEO of Dosdoce.com comments: “It is our hope that with this study we are able to provide you with a broader view of the multiple opportunities offered by new business models in the digital age, and clear up any doubts or preconceptions you may have about them”. To learn more about the study, Javier Celaya (Founder of Dosdoce.com) and Laura Ceballos-Watling (Head of Business Development, CEDRO) will be interviewed at The London Book Fair by BookMachine. Join them at 12.30 on Thursday 16th April in the Tech theatre.

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Self-employed in publishing

Corporate Social Responsibility: Not just for hippies

This is a guest post from Jasmin Kirkbride. Jasmin is a regular blogger for BookMachine and Editorial Assistant at Periscope Books (part of Garnet Publishing). She is also a published author and you can find her on Twitter @jasminkirkbride (for further discussion on how CSR adds value to your business, you might like to attend the OPG Summer Conference in Oxford) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an increasingly important part of corporate identities during the last decade. Environmental and social concerns have become core, not just to forerunners such as The Body Shop and Timberland, but even huge corporations such as Starbucks, Unilever, and Walt Disney. The question remains, however: will a commitment to CSR add value to your business as a Publisher? Defining CSR In its simplest form, CSR focuses on a triple bottom line of social, environmental and financial responsibility. In an increasing number of countries there are laws stating that, to a greater or lesser degree, each business should be responsible for its actions. Many businesses are choosing to go beyond simple compliance, though, and are creating CSR guidelines and commitments of their own.

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Self-employed in publishing

Is a royalty-only system the way forward for author payment?

Jasmin Kirkbride is BookMachine’s new blogger. Jasmin is the Editorial Intern at Tenebris Books. She is a freelance editor and published author.  You can find her on Twitter @jasminkirkbride. Last year, The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey revealed that of the traditionally published authors who took part in the survey, 59.3% earned less than £600 per year. A report from the Authors’ Licensing & Collection Society (ACLS), What Are Words Worth Now?, furthered that average author earnings were below £11,000 per year, down almost £3,500 from the previous report in 2005. Not enough to live on and well below the minimum wage. The debate over how we pay our authors was hot all year, and it looks not less important as we enter 2015. Clearly, many authors are not making enough money to live on, but is this because we’re paying them unfairly or because their content isn’t selling?

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skills for publishing

End of the book is nowhere near – New Year sees increase in sales

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License. Amazon is taking over the world, booksellers are going under, ebooks are leading to the demise of the physical book. This has long been the subtext of the modern publishing world but is this still the case? Maybe not.

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Self-employed in publishing

3 Top Tips for staying safe with eReaders

Jasmin Kirkbride is BookMachine’s new blogger. Jasmin is the Editorial Intern at Tenebris Books. She is a freelance editor and published author.  You can find her on Twitter @jasminkirkbride. Over the past few weeks, headlines have been peppered with claims that reading eBooks before bed is bad for your health. A new study, published in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), has found that reading light-emitting eBook before sleep can compromise the quality and length of your sleep amongst other things.

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Survey reveals industry-wide pay disparity in publishing

Later today (16/12) the House of Commons will vote on a bill brought forward by Labour MP Sarah Champion that would make the need for large companies to reveal the disparities in their workers’ salaries legally binding. If passed, the bill could make for some uncomfortable publicity for publishing firms in particular, with a recent survey carried out by independent careers consultancy Bookcareers.com suggesting industry-wide failures on the gender wage gap and the disparity between entry level and salary average pay.

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