Skip to Content

UK outsells Germany/US titles surge ahead

13 September 2004

A recent survey on European publishing compiled for the European Commission's DG Enterprise division by a team led by Rightscom has shown that UK publishing turnover has overtaken that of Germany. This is surprising since Germany has a considerably larger population and has always been a very active book market. Around 140,00 people work in the publishing industry in Europe as a whole, a disproportionate 35,000 of them in the UK. This UK growth is probably due to the huge benefits of having a large export market and a native language which has become the international lingua franca.

Encouragingly the report stated that 'Book sales remain resilient, despite the availability of a wide range of other media.' However British library provision is much poorer than that in some European countries. UK public libraries hold about 2 books per person, as opposed to 6 or 7 in the Nordic countries, which top the league.

Meanwhile a recent set of US statistics from R K Bowker's Books in Print database show an astounding overall increase of 19% in the number of new titles published in 2003 to 175,000. Biography, history, religion and children's books show double-digit growth, with the children's category registering an extraordinary 45% increase. Many commentators put this down to the rapid growth in self-publishing, as trade sales are flat and the big publishing houses are still cutting their output. All this shows that it is still possible to get published, but you may have to take a hand in the process yourself, rather than waiting for a publisher to scoop up your work.