With Amazon not shipping print books and bookstores barely open, how’s the publishing industry doing? Well, believe it or not, so far, so good.
State of the Publishing Industry
Prior to coronavirus lockdown, in August 2019, the Association of American Publishers reported the following numbers:
- Net revenue for hardback, paperback, mass market, and board books grew 2.5% in 2019, compared to the year before.
- Ebook revenue showed a slight decline of 3.8%, but downloaded audiobooks were up more than a third.
- Children and young adult books were up 7.4%.
- Adult books increased by 1.4%.
While ebooks may have declined last year, they have shown a steady upward trend since 2014 and don’t show signs of changing one way or the other.
When the coronavirus quarantine began, the publishing industry was hit just like everything else.
But stats showed people were still reading.
In the United States, readers flocked to medical and health books, children’s stories, and activity books. That is slowing transitioning to more fiction.
The Brits, on the other hand, choose crime and thriller fiction.
In April 2020, Peter Hildick-Smith, the president of book audience research firm Codex reported in a Wired piece that ebooks, audio, and hardcover were all up over the Easter holiday.
Prior to Easter, the audio was down but has since leveled out to almost where it was prior to quarantine.
I think that’s because people have figured out how and when to listen to those now that they don’t have commutes and gym time to do it. I know I had to change. Now, I listen on my daily walk instead of my two-hour commute.
A study in the UK showed 42% of Brits said reading helps them cope with the lockdown.
If you are concerned about the publishing industry, I do think there is room for cautious optimism.
The industry has shown resilience for generations and through multiple crises. It will be resilient through this one as well.
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