Irish Book Trade Conference celebrates strong market growth

Irish Book Trade Conference celebrates strong market growth

A packed Irish Book Trade Conference in Dublin cheered the industry’s growth over the past year with figures showing volume and value of sales increased by around 6.5% in 2018, according to Nielsen Bookscan figures.

Joint chairs John Keane of Bookselling Ireland and Ivan O’Brien of Publishing Ireland, hailed the Irish book trade’s performance at the 8th March event and said talks were ongoing with government about a number of policy changes, including getting a partial rates rebate of up to €20,000 for indie bookshops.

Keane told the conference: “We were the first that got hit with the Amazon effect and we’re still here and we’re still fighting, the numbers are growing, and it’s all down to you.”

Sara Mulryan, account manager at Nielsen BookScan, said there had a four-year continuous trend of growth for the industry in Ireland. For 2018, sales by volume were up 6.4% to £11.8m and sales by value increased 6.5% to £104.5m.

Mulryan said fiction dominated the bestseller lists with strong 9.1% growth by value over the year. Genre fiction grew up 11.9% and there was a very healthy 8.2% rise for graphic novels. Big fiction sellers included Emma Hannigan’s Letters to My Daughters (Headline), with sales fuelled by a campaign from fellow authors following her death from cancer. Children’s literature was also in healthy form with a 5.1% bump in sales by value.

O’Brien said all publishers had seen a strong Christmas – a four-week period which accounted for 18% of fiction sales. As in the UK, indie bookshops also appeared to be doing well, with the Booksellers Association having an extra 15 on its membership list last year.

The Bonnier-sponsored conference, held at the Maldron hotel, featured workshops, talks and tips from a host of Irish industry experts. There were also guest appearances from author Adele Parks and business writer Margaret Heffernan, who praised booksellers for their survival when met with the “chill wind” of Amazon and called for more cooperation on the high street to make shopping less “dreary”.