Boom Time for the Book Industry


UK consumers spent six per cent more on books in 2016 than in the previous year, Steve Bohme, UK Research Director, Nielsen Book Research UK told The London Book Fair’s Quantum Conference this week..


Nielsen’s Books & Consumer annual survey reported that 2016 was a strong year for printed books in particular, with spending up by seven per cent and young generations of consumers fuelling this growth.

Meanwhile, the findings confirmed that purchases of e-books declined, with consumers buying four per cent fewer in 2016, a trend which coincides with a slowing in the growth of device ownership, and price rises on e-books. In addition, multi-function devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, overtook dedicated e-reading devices as the most commonly used devices for e-reading, with a 48-44 per cent split respectively.

The Nielsen Books & Consumers survey also delivered good news for the British high street, with a four per cent rise in book volume purchases through physical stores, compared to flat online sales. But despite that, online retailers continued to grow their market share of the print market with a one per cent rise from 31 per cent to 32 per cent of volume purchases.

The fastest growing categories were Non-Fiction (+5%) and Children’s print books (+3%) with genres such as self-help, humour, cookery, history and crime all reporting growth. In contrast, biographies, popular fiction and literary fiction reported consecutive year decreases in purchases.

Presenting highlights from Nielsen’s Books & Consumers at the London Book Fair’s Monday conference, Steve Bohme, told delegates: “The book industry will be buoyed by these strong results and overall growth. This year we’ve seen a range of bestsellers from a diverse selection of genres come to the fore – from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to Ladybird Books for Adults and Enid Blyton parodies and social media sensation Joe Wicks’ healthy cookbooks – and these key titles and series have contributed heavily towards this upward trajectory. It’s refreshing to see how books generally, and print books in particular, are still appealing to younger consumers, both male and female, despite so many other forms of entertainment and information competing for their attention.”

Jacks Thomas, Director of The London Book Fair, stated: “Much has been said in recent years about e-reading cannibalising the sales of print books, so it is very interesting to see how this trend has reversed and how print is now very much back on the up. We live in a world where variety is everything and book buyers want to have the luxury of choice – to have access to titles in paperback, hardback, e-book or audiobook format – according to their lifestyle and preference. We are delighted to be kicking off The London Book Fair, a major international event in the annual publishing calendar, on such a positive note and I’m sure the book industry and general public will be pleased to hear that the our beloved books are very much alive and kicking.”

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