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The state of the publishing industry in 2021

The state of the publishing industry–2021

Curious to hear a comprehensive analysis of the state of the publishing industry, I attended a ZOOM webinar this week put on by Ingram entitled: How has Covid-19 impacted the Book Industry? There was a lot of optimism. Here are the key points I took away from the meeting:

  • Book sales are up right across the spectrum by 6%, and a whopping 29% for Q1 2021 over Q1 2020 in the US. Global book sales reflect similar upticks. Basically, we’ve seen the market grow five years-worth in a year, with books finishing in the top five in retail sales.
  • The categories that saw the greatest increases are, 1) Juvenile fiction, 2) Fiction, and 3) Juvenile nonfiction.
  • Also of note, buys are interested in new formats, as well as titles that dealt with the state of the world today.
  • They report that the way orders come in changed dramatically due to the lack of face-to-face events. However Ingram’s ability to fill customer orders through drop shipping met a need, and eased issues with shipping in general. (On a global level, think Brexit. UK to EU shipping was particularly interesting, but thanks to Ingram’s multiple manufacturing plants throughout Europe, they were able to sidestep this border-crossing problem.)
  •  Digital sales rose 17%, and with the biggest rise in academic sales which were up 120%. There was also heavy interest form Libraries.
  • Audiobooks have taken off, not just through ACX (Audible), but across platforms. Here again there was spike in the demand for Children’s titles.
  • Don’t write off the print marked, however, because it also grew in 2020.
  • Microtrends spotlighted included African American titles and civil discourse, for example. So, as a publisher, we do need to have our finger on the pulse, and consider bring books to market faster.
  • Social Media usage is on the rise, with the average user spending 2 ½ hours per day online, and buying things they discover there, and there was a 50% increase in book-related searches on Google and Amazon. And of people surveyed 40-60% of consumers report they expect to continue this new shopping behavior post-COVID
  • Even brick-and-mortar sales are starting to return to pre-pandemic levels.
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