Doom and gloom from the book industry

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has announced it is to trim its number of author events in the face of budget cuts. Nick Barley, the book festival director, said he expected cuts of at least 3.5% next year and expected to cut the number of events. But he added: "The festivals are economic powerhouses, not just for Edinburgh but Scotland and the UK as a whole. For relatively small investments, they generate huge returns."

According to the Guardian, the city's 15 festivals have all had unprecedented levels of public funding during the recession, although along with the fringe, the book festival is one of the most economic. It received £255,705 in core funding, but 80% of its income comes from ticket sales, book sales and sponsors.

All of Edinburgh’s 15 festivals including the international festival, book festival and the fringe are facing sharp falls in their government subsidies.

And from across the Pond comes the news that US book sales have fallen although the market is not experiencing as difficult sales performance as the UK. Publishers Weekly quotes figures from the US Census Bureau which reports that sales fell 0.8% to $1.10bn in June.

Despite a slight uplift in sales during the first quarter, the market slumped in Q2. Overall, sales were down 0.5% to $7.42bn compared to the first half of 2009. When the figures are placed alongside those of 2008, before the recession dug in in earnest, sales are down 3.6%.

According to figures from Nielsen BookScan, UK book sales for the first 26 weeks of the year were down 5.5% to £699.6m; a four-year low.