Book Publishers

Industry Profile Report

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

Industry Overview Industry Structure, How Firms Opertate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Quarterly Insight, 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

                                    Coronavirus Update

                                    Jun 18, 2022 - Strong Sales Continued Post-lockdown
                                    • The increase in reading during the pandemic became “permanent” after lockdowns eased, according to Nigel Newton, CEO of Bloomsbury Publishing. Bloomsbury's sales increased 24% year over year for the first two months of 2022. A jump in online learning increased sales of Bloomsbury’s academic titles, which were a major contributor to growth. Books-to-paperclips chain WH Smith also reported an increase in sales, saying the recovery in travel after the lockdowns had helped boost sales at its outlets in train stations and airports.
                                    • Enrollment at US colleges and universities decreased 3% between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, according to debt management firm Student Loan Hero. Textbook publishers will be negatively impacted if the trend continues Six states saw double-digit enrollment decreases during the period. Eight states saw enrollment increases, led by two with double-digit jumps. New Hampshire colleges saw a 25% jump in enrollment and Arizona saw a 10% increase.
                                    • Some experts cite the coronavirus pandemic as a driver of book bans occurring in some communities and schools. Emily Knox, an associate professor of library and information science at the University of Illinois, said that the current animosity toward literary content was fueled by pandemic-related isolation. “School came home during the pandemic,” said Knox. Usually, school is “a black box—kids go to school and they come back later—but in the pandemic, that wasn’t true anymore.” Caregivers listened in on lessons, and what they heard surprised them.
                                    • Sales at physical stores grew faster than e-commerce sales in 2021, according to a New York Times analysis of US Department of Commerce retail sales data. Americans spent 18% more year over year in 2021 on food, cars, furniture, electronics, and other retail products. Online retail sales increased by 14%. The difference indicates that e-commerce lost ground last year to brick-and-mortar stores.
                                    • Paper shortages and increasing distribution costs are challenges that the book publishing industry will likely face throughout year, according to Publishers Weekly. The seeds of the current problems were sown early in the pandemic, when sales of print books unexpectedly rose, increasing demand while people were leaving manufacturing jobs in droves that led to labor shortages in the printing and papermaking businesses. Bill Rojack, of paper manufacturer Midland Paper said that book publishers are going to need to make some tough choices. “We’ve been spoiled,” he said. “Too many trim sizes and too many colors, and simply too many options.” He added that publishers should be in constant contact with their paper and print providers, discussing the options that remain available and shouldn’t even bring up prices.
                                    • Publishers’ licensed movie tie-in programs have been negatively impacted by pandemic-related reductions and delays in film production. Industry leaders say that production hiatuses, shuttered theaters, changing distribution strategies, and other complications combined to create an uncertain landscape for the studios and the tie-in business, which is characterized by long development times, strict release dates, and short sales windows. Valerie Garfield, publisher for licensed, novelty, and branded publishing at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, called the situation extremely challenging. “It throws our carefully laid-out program up in the air. We take time to consider the number of titles, formats, and price points depending on the marketing, visibility, and timing of the film. If we can’t pull it up as much as needed, or if we expected a flashier campaign but then it’s released quietly on streaming, we have to adjust our expectations. Sometimes the timelines don’t match up and we can’t make the new on-sale date.” Delays are still happening but the situation is improving. “Release dates are getting a little more defined as theaters open up,” said John Russell, vice president of global licensing at Phoenix International Publications’ PI Kids imprint. “That’s good for us and good for the retailers.”
                                    • Industry experts say that educators are moving increasingly towards digital textbooks, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left publishers scrambling to keep access limited and revenues high, as digital texts with no controls applied can be reproduced and distributed at almost no cost. Approaches to limit access have included paywalls, DRM, and expiring access. Another growing strategy is 'textbook as a service', where textbooks are replaced with paid access to online education platforms to which access is revoked at the end of the term.
                                    • Brick-and-mortar shops, which operate through hand sales, recommendations, and word of mouth, remain an important avenue for up-and-coming authors during the pandemic, according to the Los Angeles Times. “An author who has a strong presence or following can certainly sell a lot of books at virtual events,” says Jonathan Burnham, president and publisher of the HarperCollins imprint Harper, “but it’s harder for newer voices to get the kind of sales that you might get from in-person events versus virtual, because there’s so much competition for people’s time in the evenings.” Many writers are doing hybrid events going into the fall, while keeping a close eye on the surging Delta variant.
                                    • Publishers continue experimenting with virtual publicity activities. Experts cite the ability of virtual events to create community, to enable teams within a media company to work together, and to increase interaction with authors as key reasons for continued interest in virtual publicity.
                                    • Some book publishers are racing to publish accounts of the coronavirus outbreak. Published works range from reported narratives about the science of pandemics and autobiographical accounts of being quarantined through spiritual guides on coping with grief and loss to a book about the ethical and philosophical quandaries raised by the pandemic. Upcoming works include examinations of the economic consequences of the pandemic, studies of the coronavirus, and histories of other pandemics.
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