In 2021, book sales growth among individual booksellers improved substantially in several markets around the world, with Mexico, Denmark, and Portugal seeing the highest growth year over year. Whilst sales growth in the United Kingdom dropped by five percent among sellers, revenue was overall on the up.
Book revenue: print vs. digital
Total digital publisher sales revenue of books, journals, and rights in the United Kingdom reached 3.1 billion British pounds in 2022, with physical revenue surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Physical revenue was close to approaching four billion GBP for the first time in 2022, and whilst digital revenue could overtake print in the next year or two, print books remain very popular.
At the same time, audiobooks are growing in popularity among UK consumers. Audiobook download sales revenue hit 164 million British pounds in 2022, a number more than twice the figure recorded in 2018. This steady revenue growth evidences the increased demand for the format, and e-books are also appealing to the modern book reader.
Digital book consumption in the UK
Digital alternatives to print offer consumers new ways to engage with books and can make reading more accessible and mobile. Indeed, a survey revealed that the ability to access e-books whenever they want was a key reason for engaging with e-books, and the same was true of audiobooks. The convenience of storing digital books online was also a draw for readers, and arguably one of the disadvantages of print books. Younger consumers are the most likely to read e-books regularly, and most particularly Gen Z readers under the age of 25 years.
This engagement with multiple formats is encouraging news for publishers, who can capitalize on UK book readers’ longstanding love of print as well as their interest in new and emerging alternatives.
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