US publishers sales of e-books and print books picked up the pace in 2011, a year when UK publishers' export sales decreased, after the US companies "reached deeper into the international consumer base", and took advantage of the spread globally of digital reading.
The growth was led by e-books, with sales of digital books into overseas territories rising some 333% to $21.5m. But print exports also increased, by 2.3% to $335.9m in the same period, according to the data by the Association of American Publishers.
Export sales to the UK grew the most – by 22.9% overall including print and digital. Broken down, this represented a 10.4% rise in exports of print books to $57.1m and a 1,316.8% increase in e-book exports to $7.1m.
Continental Europe remains the biggest market for US publisher exports, though the gap closed narrowly. Print book exports into Europe grew 9.5% to $77.4m, with e-book sales rising 219% to $5.8m: e-book sales in Continental Europe were actually more than three times bigger than those to the UK a year earlier, but were overtaken by the fast growing UK e-book market.
Exports to Africa grew by 21.9% overall $3.8m, and by 15.4% to Latin America, where overall revenue was $16.7M.
According to the AAP interest in US editions and publishers strategic plans for expansion in international sales, marketing and distribution were the reasons for the export sales growth by publishers. US publishers saw sales of trade titles increase to countries across the globe from the year 2010-11, due to internet access to a full range of English language titles, particularly those unavailable in many markets, the rise of e-books internationally and new readers.
A spokesman for the AAP said: "Over the past few years, publishers have reached deeper into the international consumer base through marketing and publicity, especially digitally and with social media; sales; and distribution. US publishers have established a strong presence across the world."
He added: "Often, the draw is the original US edition itself. Certain genres such as entertainment, US pop culture and American business topics have special appeal as well as children’s and young adult books in countries where English as a second language is important."
In total, US trade publishers’ net sales revenue increased 7.2% between 2010-11 to $357.4m. E-books as a proportion of total sales increased from 1.5% to 6%.
The numbers are dwarfed by UK publishers' exports, but any upturn in sales of US publishers' books into markets previously dominated by UK-based publishers will be closely monitored, particularly as it comes at a time when UK publishers' own export sales shrank for the first time in a number of years. According to the UK Publishers Association, UK publishers' exports were worth £1.2bn in 2011, including sales worth £137m to North America, and sales worth £459m to the rest of Europe. Down 3.9% and 2.3% respectively.
The PA figures do include non-trade publishers whereas the AAP figures do not. Neverthess exports of trade books, fiction, non-fiction and children's, titles were £441m, down 3%, excluding e-book sales.