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Academic sales decline in first six months
01.01.70 | Philip Jones
Sales of print books in the academic, specialist and higher education publishing market have slumped in the first half of the year, with one publisher seeing a decline of 22% in print sales. But academic publishers pointed to digital and institutional sales as growth areas outside of the academic retail market.
Nielsen BookScan's Total Consumer Market (TCM) figures for the first 26 weeks of 2011 have seen the overall market drop by 3% in value, or £22.2m, to £677.4m. However, print sales for most academic, higher education and science, technical and medical (STM) publishers have fallen even lower, with law publisher Sweet & Maxwell one of few in growth. Cambridge University Press' sales are in line with the general market, dropping 3% to £3.8m, but Oxford University Press is down by 5% to £12.5m and Wiley down 8% to £10.4m. Facing even more drastic sales declines are Taylor & Francis (down 14% to £3.9m), McGraw-Hill (down 16% to £2.2m) and Elsevier, which is down by 22% to £4.2m.
However, Ben Ashcroft, CUP's sales director for academic and professional books, pointed out that BookScan figures don't include library or digital sales. He said: "In general our sales are positive."
High street academic retailers Blackwell and John Smith & Son admitted the market was "tough", but said they were not experiencing the level of decline suggested by the BookScan figures.
David Prescott, m.d. of Blackwell Bookshops, said: "It's fair to say that bookselling, and particularly academic bookselling, is challenging at the moment, but in light of the numbers we have seen from Nielsen, we're pleased with how we've been performing." Peter Gray, owner of John Smith, said the retailer was growing sales on a like-for-like basis.