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Publishing industry reports drop in print sales

The Publishers Association (PA) has published figures for last year’s sales which pushed the total industry income to £6bn, where digital growth in some areas has offset the decrease in print sales.

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Michelle Obama’s memoir was the best-selling book of 2018. Photo: Terry Ballard

Despite the roaring success of books like Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which sold nearly 10 million copies worldwide, physical book sales dropped 5% in 2018 compared with a 3% increase for digital sales, according to the PA Publishing Yearbook 2018.

The Yearbook highlights the importance of exporting books in the UK, which accounted for 59% of total sales income and remaining level at £3.5bn.

The association has said there are a number of factors contributing to the figures, including concerns over a drop in sales of school textbooks due to tightening school budgets.

UK publishing continues to satisfy the insatiable consumer appetite for books in all forms

Stephen Lotinga, chief executive officer of the Publishers Association, says: “UK publishing continues to satisfy the insatiable consumer appetite for books in all forms. Investment in digital is paying off, driving growth and meeting reader demand to access books at any time in the format of their choice.

“Audiobooks have grown phenomenally as ever-increasing numbers of people opt to enjoy books in a way that suits new technologies and keeps pace with our busy lives.

“As the industry’s growth is being driven by digital, it is also clear how unfair it is that readers who prefer digital are being taxed 20% more than their print equivalents. The government must act now to axe the unfair reading tax.

“Despite good top line revenues, there are some areas of real concern. School textbooks sales have taken a hit as the continuing squeeze on school budgets mean that teachers simply can’t afford the learning resources children need.”

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