Trade players see 2011 print slump

Trade players see 2011 print slump

The migration of print sales to digital has been most keenly felt by Britain's biggest players, with all but four of the top 20 publishers having Nielsen BookScan declines in 2011.

In The Bookseller's annual review of publisher performance through BookScan's Total Consumer Market, of the top 20 publishers by BookScan revenue just HarperCollins (up 2% to £122.4m); Simon & Schuster (3% to £31.6m); Usborne (up 18% to £18.8m); and Scholastic (up 5% to £12.8m) had year on year growth versus 2010. However, with the TCM shrinking overall by 6.3% in 2011 (down £106m to £1.588bn), 11 of the top 20 publishers beat the overall market decline.

Despite HarperCollins' gains, the "Big Four" publishers—Hachette, Random House, Penguin and HC—saw their collective print market share fall to 46.5%, their lowest since 2005. In 2010 the top 20 UK publishers earned 73.3% of physical sales; in 2011 that figure fell to 68.9%.

The UK's biggest publishing group Hachette's TCM revenue slid 14.4% (£37.1m) to £220.5m, and market share fell from 15.2% to 13.9%, its lowest percentage since 2005. Yet, c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson pointed out that Hachette had "the market leading share in trade digital publishing" with revenues "in excess of £20m, a 500% increase on 2010".

Hely Hutchinson added: "Sales of print books were challenging, with the loss of customers in the UK and Australia illustrating the pressure faced by ‘traditional' retailers. We were relieved and delighted by the sale and appointment of new management at Waterstones, but none of us is in any doubt about the pressures we face in this area of the market."

Second placed Random House saw its print sales shrink by 10% to £210.2m, but closed the gap on Hachette, with just £10.3m separating the publishers in 2011, down from a £23m gap in 2010. Penguin was 4.9% down (to £185.6m) on its record year of 2010. Yet it was still the publisher's second best year since the TCM was created in 2001, helped by Dorling Kindersley's 11.6% gain to £28.2m, the division's first year on year TCM rise since 2004.

DK global c.e.o. Peter Field said: "We've had phenomenal success with our LEGO titles enjoying our first UK Bookscan children's number one . . . at the same time, we've grown our core business in both the adult and children's markets."    

HC c.e.o. Victoria Barnsley called the publisher's year "a really consistently strong performance" across its fiction, non-fiction and children's departments. Successes included celeb chef Lorraine Pascale and A Game of Thrones author George R R Martin, who shifted £4.4m and £7.3m through BookScan respectively.

"Mid-sized" trade publishers S&S, Pan Macmillan (down 5.8% to £58.6m) and Bloomsbury (down 4.2% to £36.6m) all had better than market average years. S&S m.d. Ian Chapman said: "We'll ensure that we continue to explore digital possibilities, which is a challenging market. But the consumer is still out there for print and we need to focus on how we get them physical books, which is still 90% of what we do."