publishing facts and figures


Official Govt data

  • Publishing is estimated to have accounted for 192,000 jobs in the UK creative economy in 2017, almost 10 per cent of UK creative industries employment.
  • The Gross Value Added (GVA) for UK publishing in 2016 was estimated to be £11.6bn, which has risen from £10.3bn in 2010.
  • The GVA of publishing in 2016 rose by 7.7 per cent year on year, and increased by 12.1 per cent between 2010 and 2016.
  • In 2016, publishing exported services worth £2.32bn, up from £1.03bn in 2010. The sector exported goods worth £2.57bn.

Sources: DCMS Sector Economic Estimates, DCMS, July 2018 & Nov 2017; Creative Industries Economic Estimates, DCMS, January 2016;  Creative Industries Focus on Employment, DCMS, June 2015.



The Publishers Association uses a definition that excludes publishing related activities such as magazines, newspaper and software and other parts of the value chain including translation and content creation. The Association estimates that the UK sector generated £5.1bn of revenues from books and journals in 2016, and directly supports 29,000 UK jobs, with more than 70,000 jobs supported in total through direct, indirect and induced impact.

Each worker in the publishing industry is estimated to produce £112,800 Gross Value Added - or twice the UK average figure.

Although figures for the number of publishing enterprises are questioned on methodological grounds, the ONS estimates that there were 2,255 UK publishing enterprises in 2016, with the Annual Business Survey estimating that there were 172 academic publishing organisations in 2014.

Source: 'The Contribution of the Publishing Industry to the UK Economy', PA, 2017.

Separately, Nielsen Bookscan, the UK book sales monitor, estimates that the UK print book market grew by 2.1 per cent in value and by 0.3 per cent in volume during 2018. In total, 190.9m books were sold, worth £1.63bn. The year's most valuable title was 'Becoming', the memoir from former First Lady Michelle Obama, whilst the biggest-selling non-fiction title was 'This is going to hurt', Adam Kay's memoir about life as a junior doctor, whilst the overall top selling title was 'Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine', the debut novel by Gail Honeyman.

Source: The Guardian Books, Jan 2019.


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 

  • Total publishing income from physical books, journals, rights, co-editions and licensing income, was £5.7bn in 2017, a 5 per cent year on year increase. Income from physical and digital books rose 4 per cent to £3.7bn.
  • Total exports income rose by 8 per cent to £3.4bn (see exports section).
  • Physical book sales income rose 5 per cent whilst digital book sales declined by 2 per cent.
  • Digital income from books and journals rose by 3 per cent to £1.8bn.
  • 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.


Source:   The Publishers Association, 2017; NRS PADD, Jicreg; Ofcom.

The UK publishing industry is highly successful in overseas markets

  •  Total publishing export income rose 8 per cent to £3.4bn in 2017. This includes income from physical and digital books, journals, rights, coeditions and licensing income.  Significant rises were reported in non-fiction, reference, and publishing related to English Language Training. It is estimated that in 2015 the income from physical books alone contributed to a £1.1bn trade surplus for the UK. 
  • Physical book export income rose by 8 per cent, and total journal export income rose by 5 per cent.
  • The UK is the largest exporter of physical books in the world, with an estimated 17 per cent of world exports.
  • The UK is also the world leader in academic publishing, with 10 per cent of all academic publishers and 16 per cent of the most-cited journal articles.

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.