publishing facts and figures


Official data

  • Publishing is estimated to have accounted for 193,000 jobs in the UK creative economy in 2016, almost 10 per cent of UK creative industries employment.
  • The Gross Value Added (GVA) by UK publishing in 2014 was estimated to be £10.2bn, which has risen from £9.26bn in 2008.
  • The GVA of publishing in 2014 rose by 2.8 per cent year on year, and has increased by an average of 1.6 per cent a year between 2008 and 2013.
  • In 2013, publishing exported services worth £1.31bn, up from £806m in 2009.
  • Two thirds of the UK population, 42 million people, read a newspaper in print or digitally every week. 
  • Newsbrands - national, regional and local newspapers in print and digital - are by far the biggest investors in news in the UK, accounting for more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of the total spend on news provision in the UK. 

Sources: DCMS Sector Economic Estimates, DCMS, July 2017Creative Industries Economic Estimates, DCMS, January 2016;  Creative Industries Focus on Employment, DCMS, June 2015;  The Publishers Association, May 2015,  NRS PADD, Jicreg; Ofcom



By providing the source material for television, film, theatre and musicals, the publishing sector helps to reduce the risk and increase the success of creative productions.

A report for the Publishers Association by Frontier Economics estimates that productions that originated as books generated 44 per cent more in UK film box office revenue (and 53 per cent more globally); 58 per cent higher viewership of ‘high-end’ TV productions; and nearly three times more ticket sales for theatre productions.


Source:   The value of publishing, The Publishers Association, 2018

The UK publishing industry is varied and highly productive 


  • Sales of books and journals reached a record £4.8bn in 2016, after a 7 per cent year on year increase - the biggest in a decade.
  • Exports rose by 6 per cent to £2.6bn.
  • Digital sales rose by 6 per cent to £1.7bn, despite a 3 per cent drop in eBook sales.
  • Physical sales were up by 8 per cent to £3bn, the highest level since 2012.
  • Overall academic and professional publishing was up by 10 per cent to £2.4bn

  • Publisher sales of academic and professional books rose 9 per cent to £1.1bn

  • Total income from journals rose 10 per cent to £1.2bn

  • Share of journal income from subscriptions fell to 79 per cent while income from Open Access article processing charges increased by 46% to £81m

  • Overall consumer publishing performed well, rising by 5 per cent to £1.8bn. This was fuelled in large part by a return to growth for children’s books sales which increased by 16 per cent to £365m

  • Non-fiction sales also rose by 9 per cent to £884m

  • Fiction sales fell by 7 per cent to £525m meaning the category has now dropped by 23 per cent since 2012 signifying a continued shift in consumer spending. 

  • Overall educational publishing was up by 5 per cent to £336m

  • While domestic sales saw a modest increase of 1 per cent it was a strong rise in exports of 11 per cent which drove overall growth

  • Exports were particularly strong to East and South Asia, up 27 per cent, and South and Central America, rising 34 per cent

  • Although digital remains a small proportion overall of educational publishing sales, it saw an increase of 25 per cent in 2016 

Source:   The Publishers Association, 2017

The UK publishing industry is highly successful in overseas markets


  • An estimated 54 per cent of the UK publishing industry’s revenue come from exports.
  • Europe is the largest export market, accouting for 35 per cent of exports.
  • Exports of Children's books increased by 34 per cent to £116m.
  • Publishers of primary and secondary learning materials saw export sales rise by 11 per cent to £144m, with digital exports rising by 136 per cent
  • Non-Fiction exports were up by 10 per cnet to £264
  • Sales to East and South Asia were up 10 per cent to £231m
  • Growth returned to North America with sales up 19% to £136m

Source:  The Publishers Association, 2017


THE UK has a large magazine publishing market

  • The UK is a leading publisher of newspaper and magazine titles. The UK customer publishing industry is the most developed in the world and is worth over £1bn each year. (1)
  • There are over 3,210 consumer magazine titles in the UK, reaching 87 per cent of the total adult population. UK consumers will spend an estimated £2.5bn on magazines in 2013. (2)

1. Content Marketing Association.

2. PPA.

The UK publishing industry has a rich history of innovation


  • UK publishing companies are at the forefront of the knowledge economy and a driving force in the innovation of digital business models. (1)
  • The UK is a world leader in the development of international standards for the electronic access and delivery of content, bibliographic information and publishing e-commerce. The UK benefits from a strong commitment to freedom of expression and anti-piracy laws, which help ensure that the huge amount of creative content generated is legally protected and enforced.(1)
  • UK newsbrands have large and increasing audiences which are powering growth in digital revenues. The rise of digital technology in recent years has expanded the number of ways for newsbrands to engage with audiences. It is a mainstream habit for a UK press reader to consume news media in print and online, and to follow journalists and news organisations on social media (2)
  • The UK's Publishers Association is a leading force in the battle to suppress international copyright piracy.(1)
  • The Statute of Anne, enacted in 1709, formed the basis of copyright law in the UK. It is now generally recognised as the first legislation to protect the interests of authors and publishers in the Western world and has been regularly updated to take account of technological change and the emergence of new media.(1)
  • The UK was one of the protagonists of the Berne Convention of 1888, which provided the basis for the international protection of intellectual property. (1)
  • Britain's press has a rich heritage and can trace its history back more than 300 years, to the time of William of Orange. Berrow's Worcester Journal, which started life as the Worcester Postman in 1690 and was published regularly from 1709. It is believed to be the oldest surviving English newspaper.(2)
  • UK book publishers have been pioneers in the introduction of environmentally friendly strategies for their businesses, for instance in the use of sustainable paper resources and the reduction of chemically damaging production processes. (1)
  • International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs), which are fundamental to all modern bibliographic and publishing e-commerce systems, had their origins in the UK in 1966.(1)
  • In the 19th century, the UK introduced the steam-powered presses which transformed the publishing industry, bringing printed material to a rapidly expanding market.(1)


1. Publishers Association

2. News Media Association.