Book Publishers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 2,000 book publishers in the US perform design, editing, and marketing activities necessary for producing and distributing books in print, electronic, or audio form. Book categories include the Trade sector, learning and classroom materials for K-12 education, Higher Education books and materials, and professional, technical or scholarly journals. The Trade sector can be broken into Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Juvenile Non-Fiction, and Religion subcategories.

Growth of Self-Publishing

Ten years ago, authors were dependent on book publishers to reach readers, but today authors have the option of self-publishing their work in either eBook or printed formats.

Competition from Alternative Media

Trade books compete with other forms of entertainment for consumers’ time and dollars.

Industry size & Structure

The average book publisher operates a single location, has 24-25 employees, and generates about $13 million in annual revenue.

    • The US book publishing industry consists of about 2,000 firms that employ 51,900 workers and generate $27 billion in annual revenue.
    • The US book publishing industry sells 2-3 billion units annually, according to the Association of American Publishers.
    • The industry consists of many small publishers (63% of establishments have less than five employees) but is concentrated, as the largest 20 firms represent 74% of industry revenue.
    • The "Big Five" US trade book publishers are Hatchette Book Group (part of French media company, Lagardere), HarperCollins (a subsidiary of News Corp.), MacMillan Publishers (part of Germany's Holtzbrinck Publishing Group), Penguin Random House (jointly-owned by Germany's Bertelsmann) and Simon and Schuster (owned by CBS Corporation).
    • Large textbook publishers include Pearson, Cengage, McGraw-Hill Education, Scholastic, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
    • Large publishers of professional and technical books include RELX Group (formerly Reed Elsevier, UK-based) and Thompson Reuters.
                                    Industry Forecast
                                    Book Publishers Industry Growth
                                    Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                    Recent Developments

                                    Mar 10, 2023 - Women Now Publish More Books Than Men
                                    • Women’s share of published titles increased from around 20% in the 1970s to over 50% by 2020, according to Joel Waldfogel, an economist at the University of Minnesota. This likely displaced some male authors, according to Waldfogel, but the change wasn’t just that male authors were replaced by female authors. The whole industry grew, and by 2021, female-authored books sold more copies on average than those written by men. US book publishing generated $29.3 billion in 2021, according to the Association of American Publishers, a 12.3% year-over-year increase.
                                    • Unit sales of print books decreased 6% year over year in 2022, according to NPD BookScan. Sales last year were the second-highest in BookScan’s more than 20-year history despite the decrease. Kristen McLean, industry analyst for US books at the NPD Group, warned that sales are likely to be down for at least the first half of 2023 as both publishing and the overall economy continue to adjust to changes caused by the pandemic. She expects publishers to have conservative approaches to acquiring new content as they determine where new growth opportunities are and what readers want.
                                    • The number of people employed in New York publishing houses dipped by 1.7% between 2010 and 2020, according to the "2022 Publishing Industry Economic Impact Study." New York, a major publishing industry hub, is considered by some experts to be a bellwether for the entire publishing industry. The book publishing job market fared much better than the periodical publishing sector, where the number of jobs decreased 45% between 2010 and 2020, falling to 13,700, and newspaper publishers, where employment fell 20%, to 7,100. The report noted, however that consolidation among large publishers likely caused, but that was countered by a growing independent press segment.
                                    • A federal judge dismissed two antitrust lawsuits accusing e-commerce giant Amazon and five large publishers of illegally conspiring to fix US prices of electronic and traditional books. Consumers accused the defendants of signing agreements that let the publishers inflate e-book prices by locking in a 30% "agency" fee for Amazon on each sale, and guaranteeing that Amazon's prices would not be undercut. Retail booksellers alleged in a separate lawsuit that Amazon had been awarded a "discriminatory discount" on hardbacks, paperbacks and mass-produced books, forcing them to pay higher wholesale prices to the publishers and depressing book sales. Judge Valerie Figueredo recommended that both lawsuits be dismissed, citing a lack of evidence of collusion.
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