Flat turnover for publishers but more books than ever produced across Europe

News - International Friday, 21 December 2018

Latest FEP data measuring European publishing industry shows turnover at €22.2 billion but number of titles climbing to new record of 610,000

The Federation of European Publishers has issued its annual European Book Publishing Statistics, with data from the most recent year, 2017, showing, after the removal of exchange rate fluctuations, the third year of growth in a row.

The 2017 figures reveal a stable market, with turnover at the same level of the previous year (but significantly affected by exchange rate issues, which hide a small overall increase), steady growth of title output, and employment picking up as well.

Rudy Vanschoonbeek, president of FEP, said: "We are glad to see signs of recovery once again in many countries hit by the crisis, and to witness an increased stability of the market, albeit amidst news of a decreasing number of readers across several territories. Publishers remain committed to offer to their readers many quality books to inform them and entertain them and we hope, with the support of adequate policies, to see a reversal of this trend in the coming years."

(FEP) represents 29 national associations of publishers from the European Union and the European Economic Area member states and the figures are based on reports from the national book publishing associations.

The figures refer to net publishers’ turnover, i.e. the publishers’ total revenues from the sales of books, not the total market for books (margin of booksellers or other retailers). They also do not account for revenues in terms of selling rights for translation or audio-visual adaptation. In some cases, only data on market value was available; in such cases, average discount rates were applied to calculate an approximation of net turnover.

The total annual sales revenue of Eurpean book publishers shrank marginally from €22.3 bn in 2016 to €22.3 bn in 2017. The FEP attributes this small drop mostly to 'particularly strong exchange rate effects (the weakening of the British Pound)'.

Around 610,000 new titles were issued by publishers in 2017, a figure taken from different sources, some of which included new editions or non-commercial titles, and was accordingly rounded conservatively. The long-term trend remains upward. The 2016 total was 590,000; in 2015 the figure was 575,000 and in 2014 545,000.

Stock-holding also increased. According to the FEP analysis: 'European publishers held millions of different titles in stock, the countries reporting the largest availability being the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain; this figure, ever-increasing, has been spiked by the surge in digital publishing (in different formats), the digitisation of back catalogues, the growth of print-on-demand services and the surge in self-published titles (mainly in the UK). The countries reporting the largest new titles output were the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

'Total employment by publishers was estimated at 130,000 in 2017, a small increase from 125,000 in 2016. The entire book value chain (including authors, booksellers, printers, designers, etc.) is estimated to employ more than half a million people.'

The FEP also contextualised the figures over the last decade: 'Looking at longer term trends, up to 2007 there was steady growth both in terms of turnover and of title output. In 2008 title production kept growing whilst turnover, adjusting for exchange rates effects, experienced a flat year.

'2009 showed a slight decrease in turnover (accounting for exchange rates) and a slowdown of title growth. The crisis had less of an impact on publishing when compared to most other sectors.

'In 2010, growth resumed (especially exports), although favoured by exchange rates. In 2011 and 2012, the market went down, and title production growth was sluggish; the e-book market grew rapidly and exports were strong.

'In 2013 and 2014 the market slowed down again, with the most notable trends being the continuous growth of the e-book market and the good performance of exports, which became even stronger from 2015 to 2017, while the e-book market (now around 7% of the total) showed signs of stagnation for the last 3 years (but it could be a matter of capturing the right data).

'Discounting the exchange rate effects, 2017 can be considered the third consecutive year of growth, something that had not happened since the start of the economic crisis in 2008; title output keeps increasing.'

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