BookNet Canada’s Report: English-Language Publishing in 2021

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In English-language Canadian publishing, newly released survey data shows publishers planning to make remote work permanent.

In Vancouver Harbor, November 17, 2021. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Livinus

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also:
Germany’s Ebook Market, January to June: ‘Slight Growth’

Top Concern of Publishers in 2021: Printing
As some publishers in world markets work to persuade employees to return to offices, even amid the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, in Canada 63 percent of publishers overall say they’ll make remote or hybrid working arrangements permanent.

In fact, the larger the publishing house, the likelier it was to tell BookNet Canada‘s researchers that work-from-home is here to stay. BookNet Canada, as you’ll remember, is the research agency for the English-language Canadian market, and its new survey results found that:

  • Half of the small Canadian companies surveyed by BookNet said they’d permanently implement remote arrangements
  • 75 percent of mid-sized publishers surveyed said they’d do this
  • 83 percent of the largest publishing houses surveyed said they plan to implement remote work permanently

The numbers, released on Tuesday (September 21) to journalists, are part of BookNet Canada’s State of Publishing report, its seventh iteration. And its top-line data point has to do with revenue, of course: 55 percent of publishers said they’d seen an increase in 2021 revenue over that of 2020.

Shortly after receiving the news from Germany about ebook sales in that market in the first half of this year, English-language Canada’s report indicates that 52 percent of publishers there say they saw increases in ebook revenue in 2021 over 2020, while 28 percent of them say they saw increases in audiobook revenue.

Most of the survey respondents, 65 percent, are small publishers with a 2021 gross revenue of under 1 million Canadian dollars (US$742,335). The remainder were made up of mid-sized publishers (26 percent) with revenue between 1 million and 9,999,999 Canadian dollars, and large publishers (9 percent) with revenue of 10 million or more Canadian dollars.

Industry Challenges Cited: Printing, Shipping, Operations

Image: BookNet Canada, ‘State of Publishing’ survey of English-language Canadian Publishers

What’s perhaps most pointed in the key findings of this survey—remember it looks at 2021—has to do with the operational and supply-chain hurdles encountered by so much of world publishing, very much an ongoing suite of concerns.

As the report’s authors at BookNet write, the industry challenges top-of-mind for publishers in 2021 were:

  • Printing (27 percent)
  • Shipping (20 percent)
  • Operational challenges (19 percent)

“The achievements that publishers said were most proud of in 2021 were their sales (28 percent), their titles (28 percent), and navigating COVID-19 (26%).”

Image: BookNet Canada, ‘State of Publishing’ survey of English-language Canadian Publishers

Overall, 49 percent of publishers described the health of their company as excellent in 2021, based on their ability to withstand challenges, adapt, and change.

The largest share of publishers (40 percent) had been in business for more than 35 years. There was an average of 20 full-time and nine part-time employees in 2021 for Canada-based publishing firms.

Image: BookNet Canada, ‘State of Publishing’ survey of English-language Canadian Publishers

You can find the full 77-page 2021 ‘State of Publishing’ report on English-language Canadian publishers here in an Issuu edition.


At Frankfurt, please join us for the inaugural edition of Publishing Perspectives Forum, a two-day program of leading and influential professionals in the international publishing industry discussing today’s challenges, dynamics, and trends. Our lineup on Wednesday, October 19, at 11 a.m. includes a discussion on “The Cost of Doing Business” in 2022 with Ingram Content Group’s David Taylor; Abismos Editorial’s Sidharta Ochoa of Mexico; Maddalena Fossombroni of Italy’s Todo Modo, with moderation by Erin L. Cox.

Attendance is free of charge for all Frankfurter Buchmesse exhibitors and trade visitors. The program language is English. You’ll find full details and developing news here

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Canadian book market is here, more on BookNet Canada is here, more on ebooks is here, and more on industry statistics is here.

More from us on the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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