Export sales growth outstripping home sales

Scottish publishers have been encouraged to adopt a more global outlook as the UK economic climate continues to suffer, with figures presented by Book Marketing Limited highlighting the growing value of export sales.

Quoting Publishers Association statistics at Monday's Publishing Scotland conference, Steve Bohme, research director at BML, said export value sales for UK publishers have grown by 3% between Q1 and Q3 in 2010, compared to the same period in 2009. UK publisher sales of books in the UK fell by 3% over the same period.

According to UK Trade Info data cited by Bohme, the Middle East/North Africa grew as a book export region for the UK by almost 60% between 2005 and 2009. Between January 2009 and November 2010, Latin America and the Caribbean saw the most significant increase, growing by 15%.

Publishing Scotland chief executive Marion Sinclair encouraged publishers to look for opportunities abroad amid difficult home markets. She told The Bookseller: "It is important to place ourselves as Scottish publishers rather than publishers for the Scottish market."

In her speech, Anne MacColl, c.e.o. of Scottish Development International, said: "The growth of international trade is possibly one of the biggest factors that can help grow economic recovery. It is time to stretch our mindset." She urged publishers to build on their Scottish identity in order to market themselves abroad. She said: "I think exporting ideas and culture is a bigger growth industry in Scotland at the moment than exporting 'stuff'."

The conference programme also focused on expanding business through digital, with Sinclair stressing that since Scotland's publishers are predominently small or medium-sized some are still to begin developing digital publishing. Sinclair said: "Going digital will force companies to rethink their strategies as the e-book vendors are international and that opens up new markets."

Meanwhile, strategic management consultant David Pirnie announced a development project, created by Publishing Scotland, in order to help Scottish publishers capitalise on 'big ideas'. The project will mentor 12 to 15 companies, selected during a formal applications process during May and June, with the programme to last six months from September.

The conference was held at The Royal College of Physicians on Queen Street in Edinburgh on 21st January.