According to The Guardian last month, the UK publishing industry declared 2022 a ‘record-breaking year’ for book sales.
The UK Publishers Association confirmed an astonishing 669m physical books sold in the UK last year, with a total income of £6.9bn.
The Association’s annual report A Year in Publishing, claimed UK sales were up 4% on 2021 to the highest overall level ever recorded.
Exports rose by 8% in 2022, with £4.1bn in total sales, powering the record year. It more than covered the fall in domestic sales of 1% to £2.7bn
Print sales rose 2%, to £1.8bn; digital sales were also rose 2% to £423m. The notable winner was audio downloads, up by 8% to £164m. Fiction rose by 9% to £797m, children’s books grew by 1%. Non-fiction decreased by 2%, but still reached £1bn.
You can read those numbers as testament to the resilience of the industry, or as further signs that change and renewal are vital.
Profits in traditional publishing remain a thorny subject. Production costs rose thanks to rising paper and energy prices. Brexit also gets a share of the blame for more difficult trading conditions.
On the customer side, inflation fuelling the cost of living crisis has also had an impact, reducing spending on children’s’ books. Dire warnings predict up to 30% of those surveyed expecting to buy fewer books in 2023.
The Publishers Association itself tried to talk up the merits of books in the face of declining spending consumer power. It also leaned in to the power of BookTok social media influencers to generate sales.
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Report covers the Trad Publishing sector, doesn’t provide any context for the whole market including Indie.