Book publishing appears to have successfully warded off challenges from the e-reader movement, as the industry saw widespread revenue growth over the course of the past year. The future of printing seems to be more secure than it looked just a few short years ago, and there are numbers that provide evidence of this stability.
By the numbers: publishing is on the rise
Talking New Media reported that in 2014 the publishing industry generated nearly $28 billion in net revenue, an increase of 4.6 percent from the previous year and an indication that growth is occurring. In addition, trade revenues increased 4.2 percent to $15.43 billion from $14.81 billion in 2013. Overall, 2.7 billion books were sold, marking a modest increase from 2.6 billion in 2013.
The source pointed out that the largest area of growth within the industry was children's and young adult books – a good sign for the continued readership of kids and teenagers in the face of the digital world's perpetual clamoring for attention. Both revenue – 20.9 percent – and units sold – 13.5 percent – saw double digit increases, and the category surpassed adult fiction sales by 97 million books.
2014 was a good year for e-books, too, as that industry saw an increase of 3.8 percent to $3.37 billion. However, paperback book sales still dwarf the electronic versions, as that sector saw $4.84 billion units sold. Despite the supposed ease of purchasing books electronically and reading them on the screen of a single device, consumers are still largely favoring hard copies, and that preference does not appear to be waning even in the digital era.
Innovation and renewed passion is the key to sustainable success
Industry expert Matt Haslum, who recently spoke at The Bookseller's Marketing and Publicity Conference, had some advice for publishing companies to help them remain competitive for the foreseeable future. Haslum said that in order to engage with a passionate fan base of readers, publishers need to demonstrate a penchant for creativity, a reflection of the consumers' love for reading and appropriate placement of products based on the varied interests of targeted audiences.
From a marketing perspective, he stressed innovation and interaction. Producing thought-provoking online content for readers to consume and comment on is a powerful channel through which companies can build lasting relationships with customers and promote themselves as destinations for thought leadership. Haslum said that being optimistic, moving quickly and being agile were important features for publishers to have, and also recommended that evolving, listening and adapting are ways to establish positive communication with the consumers. In order to best appeal to readers, he said publishing companies need to think like them and act accordingly.
Publishers are experiencing some good times at the moment, but in order to best set themselves up for long-term sustainability, they need to evolve into not just distributors of books, but engaging, thoughtful resources that can build relationships with consumers. The market looks poised to continue to grow, and publishing companies would be well-served to take advantage of this trend by furthering the conversation in a variety of media.