Business of Books 2017: A new whitepaper gives valuable insight into the state of publishing worldwide and the impact of digital and self-publishing

The Business of Books 2017 is an annual publication from Franfkurter Buchmesse that gives insight into the trends related to book publishing (traditional and digital) worldwide, including markets in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.

While the paper’s focus is on the publishing industry—particularly the trade side of it, and, unsurprisingly, the Anglo-Saxon influence of it—much insight can be gained here on many other aspects of the book industry by all who are in one way or another, directly or indirectly, involved with the book business, especially librarians, educators, independent authors, and various media companies that look to publishing (trade and educational)  to expand their offerings, particularly in the field of ebook distribution, audiobooks, multi-media, and gaming.

The white paper may be downloaded on the Book Fair’s web site

These are the highlights from the paper that we found the most insightful:

  • In terms of market size, a small number of countries continue to dominate the book business.
  • The six largest book markets worldwide (U.S., U.K., China, France, Germany and Japan) account for two thirds of all publishing revenue.
  • China is the only major market to have reported continuous growth in recent years.
  • A new balance has emerged, with a slight upswing in print coinciding with a flattening in digital revenue. Digital is no longer perceived as threatening the livelihood of print.
  • Blockbuster bestsellers continue to play a massive role in how the industry perceives itself and measures its successes (in print and digital).
  • Anglo-Saxon “powerhouse authors” continue to be the most sought-after worldwide and continue to drive the most revenue in general.
  • The digital side accounts for about 15 to 20 percent of total revenue from consumer books, with clear preferences for certain genres.
  • Users enjoy (and prefer) to read general fiction and genre fiction in digital format or listen to it via downloadable audio files.
  • There has been a steady surge in demand for downloaded audiobooks.
  • The global audiobook market produces total revenues estimated at $3.5 billion. Half of this is earned in the U.S. alone.
  • Over half of American audiobook users listen to audiobooks “without other activity to distract them” and nearly 60 percent use their smartphones to do it.
  • In 2016, ebooks were rented almost 200 million times, an increase of 21 percent from 2015 (according to OverDrive, the leading ebook provider for libraries and schools).
  • The impact of self-publishing is profound and continues to shape and reshape the book business.
  • The self-publishing market is dominated by Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) framework.