Book industry strategy group

НазваниеBook industry strategy group
Дата конвертации12.02.2013
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Part 1

Understanding the book industry

1 Introduction

Note from the Chair

The Book Industry Strategy Group (BISG) was established by Senator the Hon Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, in February 2010, partly as a response to the Australian Government’s rejection of the Productivity Commission’s commissioned research report Restrictions on the parallel importation of books (July 2009), set up under provisions of the Copyright Act 1968.

Under the existing system, parallel importation restrictions (PIRs) provide for a 30/90-day rule, based on a ‘use it or lose it’ principle. If a book is published overseas, local publishers have 30 days to produce a local edition; if no action is taken, the book may be ‘parallel imported’. Once a book has been published in Australia, the publisher is given up to 90 days to replenish stock, before parallel importation applies.

The Productivity Commission expressed scepticism about the PIRs and recommended their abolition; a recommendation that was rejected by the Cabinet.

Since 2009 challenges to the Australian book industry have intensified. It is a measure of how rapidly circumstances change that the commission’s recommendations (and its press release) make no reference to the impact of globalisation or to unprecedented increases in the value of the Australian dollar. Such overseas factors influence the price of books and pose a threat to the viability of local publishing, which may lead to reduced opportunities for Australian writers. However, if we act strategically and pursue global markets, we can strengthen Australian writing. It is puzzling, given the date of publication, that the report made no reference in its recommendations to the rising significance of electronic books, available online at low cost, nor to the impact of the information revolution generally.

In the past decade the writing, editing, publication, distribution, promotion and sale of books have been subject to unprecedented international pressure.

Creators, producers and consumers are all affected by the twin challenges of globalisation and technology. Challenges include:

  • the rising Australian dollar

  • the high price of imported books in shops compared to offshore online prices, which are GST-free

  • small production runs

  • evidence of overservicing and surplus capacity

  • threats to local printers from low-cost, high-quality printing in China and other Asian nations

  • the growing take-up of electronic books (ebooks) available online at low cost

  • increasing online purchase by readers of books through overseas suppliers such as Amazon and the Book Depository.

Tax and postage rates also affect the book industry. For example, GST of 10 per cent is imposed on books bought in Australia, while books from the United Kingdom are free of value-added tax (VAT) of 20 per cent at point of sale, and GST is not imposed on their arrival in Australia. This also applies to ebooks, which are free of GST if purchased from an overseas retailer. Variations in postage rates put the Australian book industry at a significant disadvantage compared to that of the United Kingdom.

Although readers generally complain about the high cost of print books, Australians are among the highest per capita consumers of them in the English-speaking world.

The Book Industry Strategy Group’s aspirations are to support the development of Australian creativity and in doing so, improve the capacity of industry to connect content creators with consumers in the domestic and global markets. In pursuit of these goals, the Group seeks to persuade the Australian Government and industry to undertake appropriate action to strengthen the book sector.

This report provides valuable information about the shape and reach of the industry and offers recommendations to government to ensure enhanced opportunities for the publishing industry, both in electronic and paper forms, and for booksellers and the printing industry. The recommendations aim to encourage reading as a central element in education, for pleasure, stimulation and self-discovery, and to provide greater opportunities and rewards for writers, designers, editors, publishers and for those involved in the process of production, distribution and sale. We want to see a stronger book culture – both ebooks and print books – in Australia and hope that this report will stimulate public interest and government support.

We welcome this historic opportunity to report on an area that is vital to Australia’s cultural identity and our capacity for self-discovery. We see this as a time to respond to a technological revolution and a chance to stimulate our creativity and expand its global reach.

Barry Jones
Chair, Book Industry Strategy Group

The scope of this review

In February 2010, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator the Hon Kim Carr, announced the establishment of the Book Industry Strategy Group (BISG) to address the challenges presented by the emergence of digital technologies and a global market for books, and to strengthen the future of the Australian industry.

Minister Carr emphasised that the focus of the review would be on developing strategies for collaboration, transformation and the future sustainability of the industry. The primary outcome of the work of the Book Industry Strategy Group would be the development of strategies to address the key issues of supply chain efficiency and integration, and developing viable business models for the digital age.

This report examines book production and supply in Australia in order to determine how the industry can improve its efficiency and productivity in a changing landscape. The book supply chain comprises those sectors that are engaged in the creation, production and supply of printed and digital books. This includes authors and other content creators, literary agents, publishers, printers, digital converters, distributors and booksellers. The traditional book supply chain for print books, as depicted in Figure 1, is rapidly changing with the onset of digital production and delivery, opening markets to global supply and creating both opportunity and challenge for the Australian industry.

While the review recognises the fundamental importance of the consumer in addressing industry reform, consumer groups are not directly represented in the membership of the Book Industry Strategy Group. Consumer views, including those of individuals, associations, libraries and educators, were broadly canvassed through the BISG public submission process and stakeholder workshop series. The peak library associations were observers at BISG meetings and had the opportunity to influence the BISG deliberations.

In determining a strategy for strengthening the Australian industry, the BISG formulated recommendations that recognise the importance of an efficient and integrated supply chain and promote collaboration between industry and government.

To shape the Book Industry Strategy Group’s strategies and provide supporting evidence for its recommendations, the group commissioned a series of investigative activities to determine the current state of the industry and the needs of consumers. The outcomes of the research and consultation projects are summarised in the companion publication to this report, BISG research findings: Australian books in the digital era, available on the department’s website.

Figure 1: Traditional book supply chain for print books

Consultation projects

High priority was given to broad consultation and ensuring that industry and consumers were given ample opportunity to contribute and participate in the BISG process. For a list of parties that participated in BISG consultation projects, see the companion publication.

Industry roundtable meetings

Through a program of industry roundtable meetings, the Book Industry Strategy Group sought the views of operators and associations from the key book industry sectors of authors and agents, publishers, printers and booksellers to ascertain the key concerns of each group. From these consultations, the BISG members from each relevant sector prepared an issues paper that was submitted to the full Strategy Group for further discussion. This process ensured that all BISG members had a sound understanding of the issues facing the related sectors.

Public submissions

The public submission process sought to garner the views of consumers and industry operators on the impacts of digital technology. The primary purpose of this activity was to gather information to inform TOR 3; however, respondents provided views on a far broader cross-section of issues. The process was open from 18 October 2010 to 31 January 2011, and 138 submissions were received.

Stakeholder workshops

The stakeholder workshops series focused on identifying strategic issues for determining a strong future for the Australian book industry. Over 200 industry practitioners participated in nine workshops that examined specific subsectoral issues, supply chain impediments and strategic considerations.

Book Industry Strategy Group consultation process on recommendations

Before formulating its recommendations, the BISG consulted with key industry representatives from each of the core book industry sectors: authors, publishers, printers and booksellers. In this final consultation phase, members sought to ensure that the final recommendations would be generally embraced
by industry.

Government agencies

Relevant government agencies were briefed throughout the BISG process and representatives from these agencies attended the BISG workshops and meetings.

Research projects

A series of data-based research projects were conducted to provide the Book Industry Strategy Group with documented evidence on market performance, new technologies and other factors influencing the operating environment.

Digital technologies in Australia’s book industry

Ms Jenny Lee from the University of Melbourne was commissioned by the Book Industry Strategy Group to prepare a report on digital technologies in Australia’s book industry. The report examined technologies used in each part of the book supply chain and provides BISG members with an overview of how each segment of the industry may be affected by digital delivery of books.

Market analysis research project

The market analysis research project used factual data to examine the past and current performance of the Australian book industry, with specific focus on market size, competitiveness, business models and global opportunities. In addition to this analysis of secondary research, a survey of 1,000 participants was conducted to ascertain consumer preferences for printed and ebooks. The market analysis research report was compiled by Dr Cameron Crouch and Mr Jeremy Thorpe from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Review of Australian Government programs

The audit of Australian Government programs provided BISG members with information to address BISG TOR 8 by reviewing how existing activities can be modified to support the industry’s adaptation to digital technologies. The audit looked at programs that directly target the book industry as well as those that generally support Australian businesses.

Policy background

Government support for creativity

The Australian Government provides funding through a suite of programs to support the creativity of Australian authors and the publishers who take their works to market.

According to the Cultural Ministers Council’s Statistics Working Group, the Australian Government and state and territory governments contributed a total of $31.5 million towards literature and print media in 2006–07.

The Australian Government Public Lending Right (PLR) scheme makes payments to eligible Australian book creators and publishers on the basis that income is lost as a result of the availability of their books for loan in public lending libraries. PLR payments totalling $8.324 million were made to 8,998 eligible creators and publishers in the 2009–10 financial year.

The complementary Educational Lending Right (ELR) scheme makes payment to eligible Australian book creators and publishers whose books are held in educational lending libraries, including in schools, TAFE institutes and universities. In 2009–10, $10.81 million was approved under the ELR scheme to 10,876 eligible creators and publishers.

The Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts aims to support the excellence, diversity, vitality, viability and distinctiveness of Australian literature by providing direct financial support to literary creators, and grants to organisations that offer infrastructure support to the literature sector and income-generating opportunities for writers. Professional development opportunities for individual writers, including Australian and overseas residencies, are also supported. In 2009–10, the board approved grants valued at $4.2 million.

Publishing subsidies have been provided to Australian-based publishers through the Literature Board since 1995 to assist with the publication of literary works by Australian authors. The stated purpose of the publishing subsidies has altered slightly during this period from the original formulation, ‘to assist the publication of books of literary merit by living Australian writers, which may not otherwise be published’. The purpose is now ‘to promote Australian creative writers and support the publication and appreciation of their work to a broader audience within Australia and overseas’. Publication of 884 titles was supported between 1995 and 2005 by $2,716,699 in funding.

Previously known as Books Alive, Get Reading! is an Australian Government initiative developed through the Australia Council for the Arts. The goal of Get Reading! is the promotion of books and reading to the general public, children and young people, including books by Australian writers. The program receives $1.6 million a year in funding from the Australian Government.

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards are Australia’s richest literary prizes. The awards honour the contribution of Australian literature to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life and recognise the importance of literature to Australia’s national identity, community and economy. Awards are presented for excellence in fiction, non-fiction, young adult fiction and children’s fiction. Awards worth $100,000 are awarded in each category – $80,000 for the winning title and $5,000 each for a maximum of four short-listed titles. All prizes are tax free.

Government support for manufacturing

Over four decades, the Australian Government has supported the production of books through a number of different schemes. The Book Bounty was a tariff compensation program which operated from 1969 to 1997.

The Australian Government introduced the Printing Industry Competitiveness Scheme in 1999, replacing the Book Bounty. The scheme provided a 4 per cent rebate of paper input costs for designated books, whether or not the paper was subject to the 5 per cent tariff. The scheme ended in 2003.

The change over time from the Book Bounty through Printing Industry Competitiveness Scheme to the Enhanced Printing Industry Competitiveness Scheme shows that government’s involvement in the industry has moved from bottom-line compensations to implementation of innovative strategies for product and service development.

The Enhanced Printing Industry Competitiveness Scheme was established in 2000 as a partial offset for the introduction of the GST on books and ended in 2004. Grants were designed to assist firms involved in book production by encouraging the use of innovative technologies, improved business practices, training and skills development.


The reproduction and first sale of books in Australia is governed by the Copyright Act, which aims to provide a balance of incentives between the creation and consumption of creative works, including books. Included within the Act are the parallel importation restrictions (PIR), which establish the rules pertaining to the importation of books into Australia. The PIRs provide protection for holders (generally publishers and authors) of Australian rights to a title from competition by suppliers of foreign editions of that title.

For the PIRs to apply, the Australian territorial rights holder must release the book in Australia within 30 days of its publication elsewhere in the world, and must ensure resupply within 90 days. Exceptions under the ‘single-use’ provisions apply to consumers who can purchase books directly from overseas and booksellers who can purchase a single copy to fill a specific customer order. If a book is published in Australia within the 30-day limit, booksellers cannot import and sell stocks of that title from an overseas supplier. This enables rights holders to set a price, and thereby secure a certain level of royalties, in the Australian market with the certainty that they cannot be undercut by commercial quantities of imports of the same titles.

In 2009 the PIRs were reviewed by the Productivity Commission to assess their effects on the community and to determine whether they should be retained, modified or repealed. The commission recommended the removal of the PIRs over an adjustment period of three years before the repeal would be effective; however, the government determined that changing the regulations governing book imports would not be likely to affect the availability of books in Australia, and rejected the commission’s recommendation (Productivity Commission 2009).

2 Economic contribution of the industry

The collection of economic data on the book industry by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) ceased in 2003–04. This has created significant problems for the industry as a whole in measuring industry trends, performance and contribution to the Australian economy. The current picture of the industry is gleaned from a patchwork of sources, including industry associations, surveys and reports. Furthermore, total figures for the book industry are arrived at by aggregating the available and relevant data along the supply chain.

Based on these sources, in the decade 2000 to 2010, the book industry made a contribution to the Australian economy through sales income, exports and employment. While investment data are lacking, book printing, distribution, publishing and, more recently, booksellers, are investing in new technology and adopting innovations to assist in the adjustment to the new operating environment. Finally, printers of books continue to make a significant contribution to supporting regional development in areas where their facilities are located.

Sales income

In 2010, the total value of books sold in Australia (in both print and electronic formats) is estimated to have been $2.3 billion (PwC 2011: 9). This figure includes sales from ‘bricks and mortar’ bookstores (chain, discount and independent), internet sales of books to Australian consumers (from both Australian-based and overseas-based online bookstores), sales to libraries and educational institutions, and an estimate of direct sales from publishers. Additionally, drawing on data from the Australian Publishers Association, rights income to Australian authors and publishers is in the order of $5 million to $10 million.

Figure 2 charts the estimated total value of books sold in Australia over the past decade. As the chart highlights, book sales showed no growth at all in the two years following the introduction of the GST in 2000 and actually decreased by 0.6 per cent in 2002. From 2003 onwards, however, the value of book sales grew at a stronger rate, and in 2007 a 7.5 per cent increase in the value of book sales from the previous year was recorded. In all, the total value of book sales in nominal prices increased by an annual average of 4.1 per cent from 2001 to 2010.

Adjusted for inflation, the annual average increase in the total value of book sales over the past decade was 1.6 per cent.

Figure 2: Total value of book sales in Australia, nominal prices, 2001–10

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 1, p. 90.

The factors that are likely to have underpinned growth in the Australian book market include:

  • favourable economic and demographic conditions – Australia’s population increased, from 19.4 million in June 2001 to 22.3 million in June 2010 (an annual average increase of 1.6 per cent) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Average weekly earnings also increased from $670 in 2001 to $978 in 2010 (an annual average increase of 4.3 per cent) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011)

  • investment in new retail outlets by Australian booksellers

  • the release of several blockbuster series during the 2000s, including the Harry Potter (seven books, published from 1997 to 2007), Twilight (four books, published from 2005 to 2008), and Millennium series (three books, published from 2005 to 2007)

  • continuing strong reading habits of Australians – the Productivity Commission noted in 2009 that ‘reading is a popular activity in Australia’. ACNielsen found in 2001 that 78 per cent of the adult population ‘read for pleasure every day or on most days of the week’.
    A survey undertaken by Galaxy Research in 2008 similarly found that ‘85 per cent of Australians read for pleasure in their spare time once a week or more’
    (PwC 2011: 10).

However, relative to other retail industries, the Australian book industry underperformed over the past decade. The total value of book sales from 2001 to 2010 grew less than other retail sectors in Australia (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Index of total value of sales, selected retail sectors and the Australian book industry, 2001–10

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 2, p. 11.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011), for example, turnover in the retail sector as a whole grew by an annual average of 5.9 per cent from 2001 to 2010 (compared to the book industry’s annual average growth of 3.9 per cent). On the other hand, the performance of the Australian book industry fared better compared to the performance of other creative industries in Australia and overseas book industries.

Likewise, while the total value of book sales in Australia grew by an annual average of 5.2 per cent from 2005 to 2010, the annual average growth rates in other international markets for the same period were as follows:

  • 0.6 per cent in the United States

  • 0.3 per cent in the United Kingdom

  • 2.4 per cent in Canada

  • 0.6 per cent in New Zealand.

There are very distinct markets for trade versus educational books and the factors driving the growth of these markets differ considerably.

In 2010, an estimated $1.5 billion worth of trade books were sold in Australia, accounting for 65 per cent of the total value of book sales recorded in that year. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis, the value of trade book sales grew by an annual average of 4.8 per cent from 2001 to 2010 (see Figure 4). Like the broader book market in Australia, trade book sales experienced stagnation during the early 2000s, before enjoying stronger growth from the mid to late 2000s.

Figure 4: Value of trade book sales, nominal prices, 2001–10

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 5, p. 13.

An estimated 66.3 million trade books were sold through Australian-based booksellers in 2010. As Figure 5 highlights, the volume of books sold through Australian-based booksellers increased by an annual average of 6.4 per cent from 2004 to 2010. Based on BookScan data provided by Nielsen, the average price paid for a book was $19.60 in 2004, $19.83 in 2007 and $18.98 in 2010.

In 2010, an estimated $820 million worth of educational books were sold in Australia, accounting for 35 per cent of the total value of book sales recorded in that year. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’s analysis, the value of educational book sales in nominal prices grew by an annual average of 3.1 per cent from 2001 to 2010 (see Figure 6). Adjusted for inflation, however, the value of educational book sales over the past decade grew by an annual average of only 0.3 per cent.

Figure 5: Volume of trade book sales, sold through Australian-based booksellers, 2004, 2007, 2010

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 6, p. 14.

Figure 6: Value of educational book sales,
nominal prices, 2001–10

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 8, p. 15.

The educational market can be further subdivided into primary, secondary and tertiary texts; professional books, that is, books consumed by the scientific, technical, medical, legal and business professions, may also be included in this category.

The value of primary, secondary and tertiary book sales grew from an estimated $450 million in 2001 to $620 million in 2010 – an annual growth rate of 3.6 per cent. In contrast, the professional book market has been much weaker. Professional book sales grew from an estimated $170 million in 2001 to $190 million in 2010 – an annual average growth rate of 1.6 per cent.

The available evidence suggests that, while the value of educational book sales increased from 2001 to 2010, per student spending on educational books declined over the same period. Horsley (2010), for instance, estimates that average sales per student on commercial teaching and learning materials for each Australian primary and secondary student was $38.89 in 2000, $46.76 in 2006 and $43.85 in 2009. Taking inflation into account, ‘the real value of sales of commercially published teaching and learning materials [decreased] by more than 15 per cent from 2000 to 2009’ (Horsley 2010).


In 2010, Australian book publishers exported an estimated $225 million of books (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2005; Australian Publishers Association, 2001–09). Of this, approximately two-thirds (or $144 million) was trade books, and the remaining third (or $80 million) was educational books. Total book exports accounted for 12.2 per cent of publisher revenue in 2010.

Figure 7 outlines the value of book exports, by educational and trade publishers, from 2001 to 2010. It highlights
the following:

  • The market for Australian book exports was relatively volatile during the early 2000s. It is unclear the extent to which this volatility represented an unstable
    market for Australian book exports or inconsistencies in reporting.

  • The value of educational book exports declined over the past decade – from approximately $122 million in 2001 to $80 million in 2010 (an annual average decrease of 4.6 per cent).

  • The value of trade book exports increased over the past decade – from approximately $40 million in 2001 to $144 million in 2010 (an annual average increase of 15.3 per cent).

  • Overall, the value of book exports increased by an annual average of 3.6 per cent from 2001 to 2010. It is important to note, however, that the share of publisher revenue accounted for by book exports declined over the past decade – from an average of 14 per cent over 2001–05 to an average of 12.7 per cent over 2006–10.

Figure 7: Value of book exports, by trade and educational publishers, 2001–10

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 19, p.27.

Figure 8: Index of value of exports, selected industries, 2001–10

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 20, p. 28.

Despite performing strongly during the early 2000s, the value of Australia’s book exports did not keep pace with the value of Australia’s total merchandise exports over the past decade (the latter increased by an annual average of 7.3 per cent). Figure 8 provides an index of the value of exports for select industry groups. The value of book exports, however, increased at a stronger rate than the value of exports for:

  • miscellaneous manufactured articles (for example, clothing, footwear and travel goods), which increased at an annual average rate of 0.7 per cent from 2001 to 2010

  • food and live animals, which decreased at an annual average rate of 0.6 per cent from 2001 to 2010.

The primary markets for Australian books are the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, which in 2009 accounted for approximately 72 per cent of the value of Australian book exports (see Figure 9) – a percentage that has remained more or less unchanged since 2001 (PwC 2011: p 54).

Figure 9: Book export sales by territory, 2009

Source Cover to cover, Figure 21, p.29.

Some markets are more important depending on the type of book sold. New Zealand, for example, accounted for an estimated 68 per cent of Australia’s tertiary education book export sales in 2009. The Pacific islands (17 per cent) and Canada (7 per cent), meanwhile, accounted for a considerable proportion of Australia’s school book export sales. The United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand accounted for just under 90 per cent of Australia’s trade book export sales in 2009.


The numbers of people employed in the book industry are based on the available data in each of the subgroups within the supply chain and represent, at best, an estimate of employment levels. The best estimate available for employment in the industry for 2010 is approximately 25,700, comprising:

  • 10,000 employed in authoring and content creation

  • 5,000 employed in publishing and distribution

  • 2,000 employed in book printing

  • 8,700 in retail.

While these numbers provide an overall picture of employment levels in the industry, there are a number of factors that affect the accuracy of these employment numbers. First, they do not include book employment levels in discount department stores, which currently sell 30 per cent of books. Second, they do not include any employment statistics for the nascent online book retailers in the Australian market, which include fast-growing firms such as Booktopia, TheNile and Boomerang Books. Finally, these statistics will be affected by the recent closure of the Borders chain and the majority of Angus & Robertson stores, which resulted in the loss of over 2,000 jobs in book retailing.

Investment and innovation

The book industry is changing rapidly and this has created new opportunities for innovation, changes in existing business models and investment in the growing parts of the industry. The demise of REDgroup Retail, owners of the Borders and Angus & Robertson stores, should be seen in this context, and not as the ‘writing on the wall’ for bricks-and-mortar bookshops, as has been widely speculated.

The decline of REDgroup Retail has created investment opportunities for other booksellers. In July 2011, franchisee-owned Collins Booksellers announced that it had bought a group of Angus & Robertson franchises and raised the prospect of more purchases and store openings in the following months. This is expected to take Collins’s market share from 5 per cent to 12 per cent. Dymocks, the only remaining chain store, has bought two of the company-owned stores, while Pearson Australia Group has bought REDgroup’s online business for an
undisclosed sum.

Other book retailers have begun to invest in digital and online sales facilities and are initiating innovative collaborative arrangements with other players to improve competitiveness. A number of online booksellers, such as Booktopia, TheNile and Boomerang Books, have emerged in the domestic market in recent years.

While book printing continues to experience significant pressures, the industry continues to adopt new production techniques and innovative processes to remain competitive. Figures on the value of investment are unavailable, but over the past few years, book printers have invested heavily in, and adopted a wide range of, digital technologies. Digital equipment is costly. In 2008 it was estimated that a fast toner digital web press with finishing and binding equipment would cost close to
$2 million. There are indications that the major book printers will invest in and introduce inkjet printing equipment technology by the end of 2011 with costs up to around $7 million for a fully integrated book line. This will allow them to provide further short run print-on-demand capacity, a sector which currently represents a small proportion of the publishing market in Australia. Book printers have also undertaken major investments in fully digital workflows, customer interfaces and supporting IT platforms in recent years.

Changes in printing and distribution technology are also attracting overseas investors to the Australian book market. In June 2011, American-owned wholesaler Ingram announced the opening of its Lightning Source Australia printing operation in Victoria.

Print book distributors have invested heavily in developing the distribution system, particularly for trade books. The major book distributors are investing in computerised warehousing and stock control systems. Pearson, for example, spent $18 million to establish the United Book Distributors’ facility in 2002 and another $4.5 million upgrading it in 2008. Other publishing houses, such as Random House, Hachette, Macmillan and HarperCollins, have also invested in upgrading their distribution systems, and most distributed between 10 and 20 million
books annually.

Regional impact

While the total employment contribution of book printing is estimated at only 2,000 in total, some major book printers are located in regional areas where the loss of a facility will have significant economic and social impact. McPherson’s Printing Group directly provides jobs for around 300 locals in Maryborough, which is more than 10 per cent of the town’s employment. In addition to this, a significant amount of local indirect employment is supported by the Maryborough plant. In 2005, the facilities in Maryborough underwent a $20 million upgrade to broaden the range of products and services offered. Through investment in the region and employment, the printing facility continues to be an important contributor to the prosperity of Maryborough and its surrounding regions. Griffin Press is a major employer in the outer Northern suburbs of Adelaide and has also invested heavily in upgraded technology over recent years.

Major publishing distribution centres are located in Moss Vale and the Central Coast of New South Wales and are a major provider of employment opportunities in those regions.

Economic contribution by subsector

These industry-wide figures mask significant changes and adjustments that are taking place at various parts of the book supply chain. The following discussion provides insight into the contribution made by authors, publishers, printers and booksellers.

Authors, agents and other content creators

Authors and other content creators – such as photographers and illustrators – are the essential drivers in the creation of books. There are approximately 7,600 to 10,000 book authors in Australia, of whom about 2,800 to 3,200 claim writing as their primary occupation. Many semi-professional and part-time, as well as full-time, book authors augment their incomes through ‘non-writing’ as well as writing-related activities. With digitisation and convergence forcing changes in traditional newspaper and print media operations, opportunities for book authors to secure additional income through freelance writing work have decreased in recent years.

The development and income of authors and other content creators is also affected by the significant loss of employment and work opportunities in the broader media, particularly in print, such as newspapers and magazines. A 2010 report by the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Life in the clickstream, estimates that the number of people regularly and constantly employed in the mainstream media as journalists, writers, artists, photographers or other creative workers has fallen from about 9,000 in 2000 to about 7,000. About 5,000 of these work primarily in print, either as employees or regular freelance writers.

Balancing this has been the emergence of some new opportunities in long form journalism through essays, non-fiction books and documentaries. Many – if not most authors – work either primarily or secondarily in newspapers and magazines and many emerging writers, particularly in the non-fiction book market, are coming out of journalism.

According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report (2011), authors are estimated to have earned approximately $140 million in 2010, of which $2 million was received through direct grants from the Literature Board and $8 million in direct payment to authors from the Copyright Agency Limited, $19 million were payments from Public Lending Rights (PLR) and Educational Lending Rights (ELR) programs, and $114 million was royalties and advances (see Figure 10). The major funding sources equalled approximately $102 million in 2001 and grew by an annual average of 3.5 per cent over 10 years.

Figure 10: Author income, by major funding source, 2010

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 12, p. 20.

While the total amount of funding to authors has grown (see Figure 11), the average income earned by authors has declined, over the past decade. Mean creative income earned by writers in 2001 was $23,200, but this had fallen to $11,100 in 2007–08, a drop of 52 per cent. Equivalent median figures for the same periods were $5,400 and $3,600, respectively.

Figure 11: Growth in total author income, 2001–10

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 13, p. 21.

Literary agents represent authors in their dealings with publishers, mainly in the publication of trade and consumer books. The Australian Literary Agents’ Association has 18 member agencies, and at last count some six other agents were not association members.


According to analysis based on Thorpe-Bowker’s Australian Books in Print database, there were approximately 4,000 book publishers in Australia during 2008. The market has a relatively long tail of small publishers.

Over 70 per cent of these publishers only published one ISBN-tagged publication in 2008.

  • 295 (or 8 per cent) published more than five
    titles in 2008.

  • 23 (or 1 per cent) published more than 100 titles in 2008 (Lee et al. 2009).

Figure 12 : Book publisher revenue, by type of publisher, 2001–10

Source: Cover to cover, Figure 14, p. 24.

The Australian book publishing industry employs approximately 5,000 people. New South Wales and Victoria had by far the largest concentrations of book industry employees, accounting for 78.9 per cent of the total between them in 2006. The Australian Bureau of Statistic’s last survey of the book publishing industry in 2003–04 found that these two states accounted for 92.8 per cent of industry income (Productivity Commission 2009).

In 2010, book publishers in Australia generated an estimated $1.8 billion in revenue. Of this figure, trade book publishers earned 68 per cent (or $1.3 billion), while educational book publishers generated the remaining 32 per cent (or $580 million).

Total publisher revenue grew at an annual average rate of 4.3 per cent over the decade 2001 to 2010. Over the same period, trade publisher revenue grew by an annual average of 5.6 per cent, while education publisher revenue, in contrast, increased by an annual average of only 1.9 per cent. Figure 12 shows the income for both trade and educational publishers of the decade. These trends are generally in line with the rates of increase in the value of sales recorded by trade books (4.8 per cent) and educational books (2.6 per cent).

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Book industry strategy group iconA point, which very quickly became apparent to the Core Group and is also noted in several of the Working Group reports (See 1, 2, 2, 5), is the

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Book industry strategy group iconRussia's participation in the "Group of Twenty," "the Group of Eight" and the brics

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Book industry strategy group iconDetector Technology group Annual Report 2011 Detector Technologies Group ph-dt

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