London Book Fair: UK Publishing’s Impact Worth £11 Billion, New Report

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‘We ask politicians on all sides to recognize the publishing industry’s economic value,’ says the Publishers Association’s Dan Conway.

Publishers Association CEO Dan Conway. Image: PA

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

To Politicians: ‘Recognize Publishing’s Economic Value’
On the eve of London Book Fair (Tuesday through Thursday), the United Kingdom’s Publishers Association has released new research results indicating that the market’s publishing sector is worth £11 billion overall to the economy (US$14.2).

The association’s play-out of this to international news media gathered for the three-day trade show—the first major such industry-facing event of the year—should be coupled with the British industry’s leadership in book exports in order to grasp the full breadth of the UK book business’ clout.

The research, conducted by the public policy consultancy Public First, predicts that, with the right backing from government, publishing can contribute an additional £5.6 billion (US$7.2 billion) to the UK economy by 2033, and support an additional 43,000 jobs.

International demand for UK publishing, according to statements made to the press, is set to grow by a further 20 percent in the next decade, proving its global potential.

Additional top-line points from the research indicate that this year, the UK publishing industry supports 84,000 jobs. That’s the figure that the research sees as likely to grow an additional 43,000 jobs in the next decade.

A graphic from the 2024 ‘Vision for Publishing’ study from the United Kingdom’s Publishers Association. Image: PA

In his commentary, released in this political year—a comment that serves as a foundational statement for the 2024 London trade show as more than 25,000 industry players are expected at Olympia London—Dan Conway, the Publishers Association’s CEO, positions the industry as singularly essential to the United Kingdom’s cultural economy and international standing.

The publishing sector is a true success story for the UK,” Conway says, “driving economic growth, highly skilled creative jobs, and leading in worldwide publishing exports that contribute to Britain’s cultural and academic standing abroad.

“Publishers act as the heartbeat of our leading creative industries, through the incredible stories they bring to screen, stage, and games, and they also underpin the UK as global base for research and development.

“As a country,” says Conway, who will be on the Main Stage with Publishing Perspectives on Tuesday, the opening day of the fair, “we should be immensely proud of what the sector has achieved, but we must not take it for granted.

“With an election on the horizon later this year, we ask politicians on all sides to recognize the publishing industry’s economic value to the UK, announced today on the eve of London Book Fair, but also its huge cultural and academic importance in inspiring the next generation of readers, learners and leaders.

“We must ensure we work together to unlock the next chapter of this success story and grow UK publishing’s economic and social contribution for the UK.”

AI, Intellectual Property, and Copyright

These new figures come from the broader Public First report, Vision for Publishing: The Role of Publishing in the United Kingdom’s Success, and trade visitors to this business-intensive fair will hear various parts of the report’s messaging all week, in part aimed at bringing this market’s book publishing industry fully into the fold of the British nation’s tax advantages for its most cherished and protected cultural industries. The UK film industry, for example, has just cheered the arrival of the Independent Film Tax Credit, which comprises a 56-percent expenditure credit (roughly coming in as a 40-percent tax relief) for UK film productions with budgets of up to £15 million.

Listing the Publishers Association’s 10 priorities for government attention, the new report highlights these fundamental requests from the UK’s book publishing industry:

  • “Deliver AI opportunities for the whole economy, by ensuring that AI growth cannot come at the expense of IP and human creativity.
  • “Vigorously uphold the UK’s globally advantageous intellectual property (IP) and copyright framework.
  • “Establish a ‘Publishing Export Accelerator.’
  • “Axe the final tax on reading (audiobook and article and book processing charges).
  • “Invest in libraries and literacy.
  • “Ensure the UK is home for world-leading research and innovation.”

The research was conducted during January and February of this year by Public First for this report, which included an examination of “indirect upstream impact” the industry has on the economy. more details are available in the full report.

A Programming Note

From left are Glenn Rollans, Maria A. Pallante, Dan Conway, and Nicola Solomon

At 2:15 p.m. GMT, on March 12, four key players will join us when Publishing Perspectives moderates a Main Stage discussion, Copyright and AI: A Global Discussion of Machines, Humans, and the Law, an advanced-level conversation exploring the risks and opportunities within the rapidly evolving ecosystem in an era of artificial intelligence.

The session will feature:

The following video is part of the presentation of the new Vision for Publishing report:


More from Publishing Perspectives on the UK’s Publishers Association is here, more on artificial intelligence and publishing is here, more on the United Kingdom’s publishing market is here, more on the international book publishing industry’s trade shows and book fairs is here, and more on London Book Fair is here.

More of our coverage of the 2024 London Book Fair:

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson 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 (Fellow, 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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