Publishers contribute £3.2bn to economy, report reveals

Publishers contribute £3.2bn to economy, report reveals

The British publishing industry contributed £3.2bn gross value added (GVA) to the wider UK economy in 2016, underscoring that it is "a model of what post-Brexit industry could look like", according to the chief executive of the Publishers Association Stephen Lotinga.

The new research, commissioned by the Publishers Association and produced by Frontier Economics, revealed that when taking into account "indirect and induced" effects, the industry's total contribution rises to £7.8bn. UK publishing companies also play a "critical role" in supporting British bookshops, which employ 12,000 people and generate £1bn in turnover.

The report aims to build on the statistics from the PA's annual yearbook in order to show the wider contribution UK publishers make to the economy at a time key negotiations are taking place with the European politicians in light of Brexit.

The industry achieved a collective £5.1bn turnover in 2016 with 57% of total publishing turnover (£2.9bn) from export revenues. Altogether 70% of these exports were to countries outside the European Union, principally North America (17%) and East and South Asia (14%). But currently more than half of wider UK exports go to Europe, suggesting that the publishing industry is "outperforming other sectors when it comes to developing global trade".

The UK remains the largest exporter of physical books in the world, with a 17% share of world exports, more than the United States (16%), Germany (10%) and China (8%). The industry’s exports generate a £1.1bn trade surplus annually, reducing the UK’s trade deficit by 2.2%.

Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of The Publishers Association, praised the industry for its export and productivity successes and said it was "a model of what post-Brexit industry could look like".

“The UK is a global publishing superpower", said Lotinga. "We have a great export story to tell, with sales to North America and Asia seeing double-digit growth and more and more global markets expanding for books and journals alike. With productivity more than double the national average, publishing has embraced the digital revolution and is an exemplar of UK innovation at its best. Our sector has developed a highly specialised workforce, invests heavily in new authors and intellectual property, and is renowned across the world for the quality of its content."

He added: “We are a model of what post-Brexit industry could look like – international, globally focused, and highly productive. Though other sectors may be bigger, government must not overlook the needs of industries like ours, too.”

The publishing industry directly employs 29,000 people in the UK, supports up to 70,000 jobs, the document also revealed. The GVA figure per worker in publishing stands at £112,800, more than twice the national average of £49,100 and more than professionals working in newspaper publishing (£51,500).

Academic publishing is becoming "increasingly important" to the sector’s overall performance, said work revealed, generating the majority of the industry’s turnover growth since 2010. Altogether more than £1.1bn of export revenues are derived from academic book and journal sales, up 5% from 2015.

Meanwhile, a report released by the department for digital, culture, media and sport last week revealed that the creative industries sector was worth almost £92bn in 2016 – up from £85bn in 2015. The report also said the sector is growing at twice the rate of the UK economy.