UK Publisher Performance and Book sales figures - 2009

UK publisher performance in 2009 proved to be "resilient", with growth in the value of export sales helping to take the edge off a double-digit decline in sales of non-fiction titles and reference books and an overall decline in the number of books sold by 9%.

In total an estimated 763m books were sold in 2009, with an invoiced value of £3,053m, according to the Publishers Association. Unit sales were 9% lower than in 2008, but value sales remained level thanks to growth in export sales. Home sales stood at £1,850m in 2009, down 2% on 2008, while unit sales declined by 6% to 463m in 2009. UK publishers sold 300m units overseas in 2009, worth £1,203m, which was 13% lower by volume, but 4% up by value compared to 2008.

Non-fiction and reference books was the worst performing sector over the year down 10.1% to £780m, with UK sales down 12.6%. Within this sector hardbacks fell 12.1%, paperbacks dropped 7.2%, while reference sales declined 11.9%.

By contrast the value of fiction sales rose 7% to £559m, up 5.5% in the UK and 11.2% overseas, despite a 2% drop in the number of books sold.

The sale of children's books declined in volume by 2.3%, but increased in value by 3.2%, driven by a 9.7% rise in the value of export sales.

It was a difficult year for educational publishers, with sales of school books down by 7.6% by value and a huge 30.9% in volume. By contrast the academic/professional market grew sales 5.9% to £900m, despite a 9% drop in volume.

Digital sales grew 19.9% overall but were up 190% for consumer publishers, leading the PA to estimate digital sales worth £150m, with digital sales of general consumer titles worth £5m. It put a figure of £2.1m on consumer e-book sales, a jump of near 500% on the 2008 number.