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Book Publishing Industry Statistics – Part 2

In Part 1 of this review of the book publishing industry–through the lens of economic statistics–showed that despite the sense of doom that permeates most discussions of the topic these days the industry appears to be doing well, on the whole. Its receipts have been rising at a healthy clip for almost three decades. Between 1982 and 2008 the industry saw annual growth in receipts of 10.8% (3.7% after adjusting for inflation).

So, how does this growth rate compare with other industries? Quite well, as it turns out. Below is a graph showing the percentage change in industry shipments or receipts for eight different industries, among them, book publishing.

Broad Industry Trend Comparison

As it turns out, among mature industries, book publishing is doing well based on industry-wide revenues. Most other industries we looked at had annual growth rates well under that of book publishing during this period. And we had to include the measure of the pharmaceutical preparation manufacturing industry because its stunning growth over this period is so high and totally outpaces other production industries.

One industry we don’t include in the graph but wanted to is the book retailing industry. Definitions of that industry, unfortunately, have changed so much since the early 1980s that we can’t assume they’re comparable at all. Suffice it to say that the book retailing industry (not include Amazon.com, part of the whole definitional problem…) saw its revenues declined by more than 50%–in inflation-adjusted dollars, no less!—between 1992 and 2007.

How books are sold, now there’s an aspect of the industry that is in great flux. And perhaps that is what causes such anxiety in the book publishing industry. The industry’s revenues are neither stagnant nor declining–as they are for many industries–so the anxiety must be coming from some other aspect of the business.

Before we look more closely at the the book-selling retailers, we’ll take a look at a breakdown of revenues by product category. Maybe that will help us make sense of things. We’ll do that next. Stay tuned.

NOTE on industries selected for graphing—
The industries selected here are all mature; thus, we avoided software publishing and cell phone makers. We also avoided industries vulnerable to great volatility because of their dependence on commodities whose prices tend to rise and fall sharply–oil refining, for example. Finally, we selected industries for which comparable data—at the national level and from the U.S. Census Bureau–were available for both 1982 and 2008. Because of the change from the SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) system to the NAICS classification system in 1997, there are many industries for which historically comparable data are not available.


One Response

  1. […] Examining the economic struggles of the publishing industry, graph-style. Part one. Part Two. Part Three. Part Four. Part […]

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