The Changing Publishing Business Has Lost Masses of Jobs
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a snapshot of publishing industry jobs. According to the BLS’s graph, the industry has taken a beating over the past twenty-five years. The sectors hit the hardest were books, newspapers, and periodicals.
Book publishing, an industry that saw numerous consolidations in recent years, lost a considerable amount of jobs. In 1990, there were 85,900 jobs in book publishing. By 2016, only 61,500 jobs remained. Periodical publishing jobs also suffered because of poor sales. The industry boasted 146,800 jobs in 1990, but by 2016, that number had dipped to 93,600.
Poor Book Sales Have Led Publishers to Reinvent the Book
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has released its 2015 final sales estimates, disappointing book publishers. Total industry sales dropped by .6 percent between 2014 and 2015, showing another year-over-year drop. Even though unit sales rose, overall profits have dropped.
Ebooks showed sharply declining revenue, down to $2.84 billion in 2015 compared with $3.20 billion in 2014. Overall, print books’ revenue rose, with paperbacks forming the basis of that revenue. Downloadable audiobooks continued their stratospheric climb, with sales that rose by more than 37 percent since 2014.
The AAP derives its figures by combining sales figures of more than one thousand reporting publishing companies. AAP claims that its estimates reflect sales from other publishers as well. Indie book publishers might paint a different picture of the industry, but these figures denote the climate for major publishers’ book sales.
Not your cup of tea? There’s a glaring lack of diversity in the publishing arena
The lack of diversity in publishing has been a topic of discussion lately, and for good reason. Research by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center has shown that over the past twenty years, on average, only 10 percent of books per year are written about a “diverse” population.
The problem extends beyond the books published into the core of the industry itself. According to a survey commissioned by Lee and Low Books, the overall industry, comprising the executive level, editorial department, sales and marketing departments, and book reviewers, is 79 percent white and 78 percent female.
Across “the pond,” similar figures emerge. The Diversity in Publishing report found that only 7.7 percent of people working in publishing are from minority ethnicities, thus failing to reflect the reality that minorities comprise 28.8 percent of the working population. Even fewer of the editorial staff members, who choose which books to publish, stem from nonwhite origin.
Ad blockers Make Your Ads Invisible
Ad blocking is a serious issue for news publishers who have to persuade advertisers that ads posted on their sites will be seen by readers. Around two hundred million people use ad blocking software each month, so it’s a force that cannot be ignored. One estimate warns that ad blocking caused publishers to lose $22 billion in online advertising revenue in 2015.
A survey by Editor and Publisher revealed that 69 percent of news publishers are moderately to seriously concerned about the effect of ad blockers on their revenue in 2016. Rightly so, as a study of news consumers across twelve countries found that almost half of all users of news media websites regularly use ad blocking. The number is even higher when it comes to eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds, which is a coveted cohort of readers.
Barnes and Noble has risen in the face of Amazon
Scores of experts have predicted a premature end to Barnes & Noble. Amazon has made buying print and ebooks so easy and cheap, it is hard to imagine why anyone would venture out to a real bookstore. Cozy chairs and aromatic coffee notwithstanding, the appeal of a chain bookstore like Barnes & Noble has seemed to diminish over the past few years.
Surprisingly, B & N has taken a turn for the better. Its same-stores profit rose by 1.3 percent in the third quarter of 2015, and it plans to close fewer stores than previously projected. The book retailer is set to close only eight stores in 2016, representing its smallest number of store closures in the past fifteen years!