The UK publishing industry appears to be in rude (or at least, moderately insulting) good health, according to figures from the Nielsen conference BookInsights, quoted in Publishing Perspectives and The Bookseller. The Nielsen numbers cited by Steve Bohme, UK Consumer Research Director at Nielsen Book, indicate that unit sales in the UK are pretty steady at 311 million units, with a 4 percent increase in spend per book, leading to an aggregate UK consumer book market of £2.2 billion ($3.26 billion).
Bohme also said that ebook aggregate market share now stands at around 30 percent in the UK, although bricks-and-mortar bookstores seem to be doing perhaps surprisingly well as a source for ebook sales, doubling their contribution from 3 percent in 2013 to 6 percent in 2014, while their overall share of book purchases remains fairly level at 38 percent. So digital no longer seems to be casting too long a shadow over the UK book market.
Well if times are good for publishers, why aren’t they sharing more with authors? Because there is no sign of any recovery in author incomes to address the situation outlined in last year’s UK Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) report on author earnings, which produced firm evidence of how miserable many authors’ share of that pie is. At the time, UK Society of Authors head Nicola Solomon concluded that “the terms many publishers are demanding are no longer fair or sustainable.” There’s little sign of movement on that front from the publishing industry, which appears content to throttle the goose with one hand while snatching the golden eggs with the other.