books · Publishing

The Future of International Book Sales


For writers and readers, the future of the book industry depends on who is selling books. Technavio recently published its report on the Global Consumer Book Publishing Market, 2016-2020, which sheds some light on the future of the industry. (Unfortunately, the full report is behind a paywall, but I’m happy to share some highlights here.)

To few people’s surprise, digital book publishing and ebook adoptions will likely be a driving force in the international market for the next several years. Despite these trends, Technavio anticipates that the book publishing market will only have grown by a rate of around 1% by 2020.

Let it not be said that people write to become rich.

Though that percentage sounds dismal, it does indicate that there is still potential for growth in the industry. Authors and publishers just have to know where to sell their books.

The US market presents a more positive picture. It has dominated consumer book sales and in 2015, accounted for over 41% of total books revenue. Part of this is due to the US’s infrastructure and, though many of us bemoan failures of the education system, a general “reading culture”. The US’s book market will likely grow at a much more rapid rate than the international market and will expand 14% by 2020. Much of this growth is directly tied to the emergence and popularity of different e-reader platforms such as cellphones, tablets, and other technologies. Of the e-book market, nonfiction books account for 1/3 of the market revenue. They are followed by juvenile fiction and then general fiction books.

But who is actually selling all of these books? To no one’s surprise, Amazon is the leading international book vendor. However subsequent vendors include:

  • China South Publishing & Media
  • Hachette Book
  • Holtzbrinck Publishing
  • Penguin Random House
  • Phoenix Publishing and Media
  • Bonnier
  • Bungeishunju
  • China Publishing Group

As the list indicates, Asia and Europe are the next largest markets after North America, and they will likely undergo several transformations in the coming years.

This is a whole lot of numbers and market descriptors, but my largest takeaway is that for authors, ebooks still have a strong future, especially in English language markets. Hopefully this gives some indie authors hope that as long as their works are on Amazon and in ebook form, they have the potential to reach a global audience. And authors connecting with readers and vice versa is really what this industry is about.



7 thoughts on “The Future of International Book Sales

  1. Well, I can breathe a sigh of relief.
    Here I thought the tradition was all about digital. I’m glad it’s not – glad that it’s about the networking.

    I love the feel of books and I’m glad to see they aren’t going away anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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