Saturday, September 10, 2016

Book Readership and Publishing Revenue Showing Slight Declines

Book readership, according to a new Pew Research Center Survey, is down about 8% since it recorded such things in 2011.  73% of Americans say they consumed a book last year – whether it be audio, print, or e-book.  79% read at least one book five years ago.

E-book readership remains stagnant. 28% of adults reported reading an e-book this past-year -- same as the year before.  68%, however, have read a printed book this past year.  Only 6% of respondents claimed they read e-books exclusively, while 38% said they were print-only readers.

Audiobook readership – or listenership -- was down.  In 2011, 14% said they heard an audio book, and that number slumped to 11% last year.

The study from last year showed Americans have evolved into hybrid consumers.  It acknowledges that digital sales, which make up some 20% of the market, have slowed sharply and don’t appear to be rebounding.  Print sales are strong and showing an increase.

So what’s the optimum profile of today’s ideal reader?  It will be a woman, white, under 29, with a college degree, who earns over $75,000 annually, and is suburban.  Women outnumber men in average number of books read – 14 for female vs. 9 for male -- annually.

A recently released Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly ranking of book publishers worldwide reveals a lack of growth in gross revenue for major publishers, though it doesn’t indicate profits and losses.  Of the top 25 publishers, only nine showed increased revenue from 2014 to 2015.

Penguin Random House, which is German-owned, is the largest U.S.-based, purely trade publisher.  The rest of the top 10, which includes Pearson at the top, are a mix of trade and educational publishing.

The largest American book publishers are McGraw-Hill, Wiley, Scholastic, and Harper Collins.

If you look at total revenue of the top 10 publishers worldwide, last year was slightly down from the prior year, by about 700 million bucks -- or 2% less revenue.

Certainly, there is a link between readership and profits.  More readers, buying more books, at a higher price will yield bigger bucks.  Where will the industry look for growth?  That’s always the magic question.

Increasing literacy rates will help.  Improving the economy helps.  But companies will need to do more to expand distribution.  As the number of bookstores grows – and the number of locations where books are sold rises – we’ll see a period of expansion.

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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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