UK: Book Revenues Surpassed £7 Billion Pounds in 2023

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For the first time, the United Kingdom’s book publishing industry exceeded £7 billion in 2023, downloaded audio jumping 24 percent.

Reading in the home market. The Publishers Association’s new 2023 report shows that publishing revenues in the UK’s non-export channels came to some £2.6 billion, roughly equivalent to the 2022 figures, while the export market revenues rose 4 percent, totally £4.4 billion. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Alena Kravchenko

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

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

Conway: ‘The Enduring Popularity of Books’
In a report provided to Publishing Perspectives today (May 9), the United Kingdom’s Publishers Association says that in 2023, the UK market’s publishing revenue surpassed £7 billion (US$8.8 billion).

Coming in at £7.1, this 2023 level of performance represents a 3-percent increase over that of 2022, and the highest recorded for the industry.

  • Export market revenue was £4.4 billion (US$5.5 billion), up 4 percent, while the home market’s £2.6 billion figure (US$3.3 billion) was flat, a negligible change from the 2022 numbers.
  • Digital revenue was £3.2 billion (US$4.5 billion), up 5 percent
  • Total trade publishing revenue was £2.4 billion (US$3.4 billion), up 4 percent 
  • Fiction revenue was £907 million (US$1.135 billion), up 8 percent

Dan Conway

The association’s CEO Dan Conway calls the news “A great result for the UK’s publishing industry. We’ve now crossed the £7 billion mark in terms of revenue. These strong figures reflect the continuing economic value of publishing to the UK.

“It’s wonderful to see growth in many areas, including export which serves as a reminder of the influence of the UK’s publishing sector internationally. The enduring popularity of books and learning means that the sector is still performing strongly in spite of the broader economic headwinds.”

More Top-Line Points of the PA’s 2023 Report

You may recall our March report on the research results released in March at the time of London Book Fair, the Publishers Association announcing a study’s finding that the UK market’s publishing sector is worth some £11 billion to the overall economy (US$13.7 billion).

Related article: ‘Publishers Association Blasts the UK Government’s Response to AI Report.’ Image: Getty iStockphoto IR Stone

Much of what the association must do in a market like the United Kingdom—and for an industry dependent on making much of its money offshore in far-flung book markets—is continually prove to British policymakers that the book business, while not as flashy as the celebrity-studded film and television industries, nevertheless is a cultural and economic engine for the overall economy’s fortunes and labor dynamics.

This is one thing, of course, that’s behind the vehement effort this week by UK publishers and their association to persuade the British government to take more seriously the threat of generative AI systems’ content-scavenging ‘training’ protocols for LLMs, large language models.

  • Trade market exports. Image: Publishers Association

    As our readers know, the export market, taken as a whole, is critical for the UK’s book business success. In 2023, there was an 8-percent increase, no doubt welcome, in the revenues from exports, coming to a total £918 million (US$1.1 billion).

  • As for the home market, it, too, showed a gain, though less of one, at 2 percent, coming in with revenues of £1.5 billion (US$1.9 billion).
  • Total trade publishing revenue—representing a gain of 4 percent—was £2.4 billion (US$3.6 billion).
Formats and Sectors

Image: Publishers Association

Fans of the audio format, being among the most reliably excited about their favorite format, will be particularly chuffed about the strong UK market performance of their favorite format.

  • Downloaded audio in the UK’s 2023 market showed a substantial 24-percent increase in 2023 over 2022, the amount of those audio revenues being £206 million (US$257.1 million).
  • The 2023 UK fiction market showed an 8-percent rise in 2023, to £907 million (US$1.2 million).
  • Nonfiction revenues in 2023’s UK market showed a 5-percent increase to a total £1.1 billion (US$1.4 billion).
  • Children’s book revenues in 2023’s UK market were down by 4 percent, to £412 million (US$5.15 million).
  • By contrast, print performance showed only a 2-percent gain over 2022, but the total revenue for print was £1.9 billion (US$2.4 billion).
  • Digital formats overall saw their revenue rise by 13 percent, to £484 million (US$606 million).
UK Education Publishing in 2023
  • Image: Publishers Association

    Total education publishing revenue was £661 million (US$827.6 million), a largely unchanged figure from 2023.

  • UK market revenue was £192 million, down 12 percent (US$240.4 million).
  • Export market revenue was £469 million, a rise of 7 percent (US$586.2).
  • Print revenue was £566 million, remaining flat (US$708.6).
  • Digital revenue was £95 million, also flat (US$118.9).
UK Academic Publishing in 2023

Image: Publishers Association

Academic publishing, as assessed by study, showed the smallest rises and falls, keeping those the least engaging for those following the ups and downs.

  • Total revenues for academic publishing in 2023 were £3.6 billion (US$4.6 billion) a rise of 2 percent 
  • UK market revenue was £933 million (US$1.68 billion), down 1 percent
  • Export market revenue was £2.6 billion (US$3.3 billion), up 3 percent
  • Print revenue was £960 million (US$1.2 billion), down 2 percent
  • Digital revenue was £2.6 billion (US$3.3 billion), up percent

In all, the “positive picture,” as the Publishers Association refers to it, shows “publishing performing well in spite of economic headwinds, showing the enduring appeal and importance of books, journals, and other products.

Again pointing to the driving dynamic of the British market, we read, “Overall, the export market was up 4 percent, and makes up 62 percent of revenue.

“This is a reminder of the vital importance of exports to the UK’s publishing industry and its international influence and impact.”

Image: Publishers Association

More from Publishing Perspectives on the UK’s Publishers Association is here, more on the United Kingdom’s publishing market is here, and more on industry statistics is here.

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 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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