Thursday, August 4, 2016

Do The Good Times Roll In Book Publishing?

Book publishing is undergoing a pleasant renaissance and every sector is looking up – except the one that had huge growth periods earlier in the decade – e-books.

Adult coloring books is a good example of the new growth we are seeing. In 2014, one million such books were sold.  Last year?  14,000,000 copies were sold!

Audiobooks also are showing significant growth.  Audiobook downloads rose by 38.1% in 2015 vs. 2014.  Audible, the leading monthly audiobook subscription service, says the numbers of hours spent listening to audio content rose 33% in 2015 from the prior year.

Print book sales are up and the number of independent bookstores has increased over the past few years. 

But e-books are slumping. E-book sales fell 12.3% in 2015 from a year earlier.

This is all good news for the book industry.  But lost ground still needs to be made up.  We haven’t replaced all of those Borders stores.  We also have not replenished the revenue that disappeared a few years ago.

The global book market revenue in 2011 was $165 billion, but it fell over 12% to $145 billion in 2014, according to Euromonitor.  Can we ever get that missed revenue back?

It doesn’t feel like the book business is booming, because it’s not.  The industry is not slowing down or tanking either. It is seeking to rise again, and not just remain afloat. It wants to thrive. But there is great imbalance within the publishing world. The industry still depends on a handful of big books to give it life, like the latest Harry Potter installment.  It sold two million copoies in its first two days of release. For every huge book like it, many thousands of titles -- combined  -- may sell as many copies. That’s how things work.

There’s no measurement tool recording how many hours are put in by authors and publishers to sell a book, but I’ll bet that many hours are put in, between social media, tours, speaking engagements, mailings, and all kinds of marketing activities. Authors and publishers feel exhausted just to generate some positive cash flow.

What could give books a real boost?

·         Increase the number of bookstores
·         Increase the number of stores that sell books on top of whatever else they sell
·         Publishers must expand their publicity departments and ad budgets
·         More authors hiring publicists
·         More events held to sell books
·         Literacy programs that help more people to become readers
·         Libraries raise funds or lobby the government for money to buy books

The book industry looks healthy and the economy is not in crisis, yet both seem tenuous. Check back in a year!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016.

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