Global Industry Overview: Book Publishing

The international book publishing industry includes publishers of mass-market, trade, academic, reference, electronic books (e-book), and specialty books. For discussion of other print publishing trades, see also Newspaper Publishing, Periodical Publishing, and Printing, Commercial.

Industry Snapshot

Global spending on books was US$85.3 billion in 2000. In the United States alone the average consumer spent US$103.60 annually on books in 2007. The U.S. Census Bureau predicted that this figure would rise to US$117.45 by 2012. The international book publishing industry faced significant challenges throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century. World demand for books, which had once topped US$80 billion, dropped significantly in 2002. Numerous factors in 2001 and 2002, especially the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, had combined to throw the industry into one of its worst downward spirals ever, threatening independent booksellers in particular and causing layoffs at, as well as at the large independent chains. In response, some publishers, notably German giant Bertelsmann AG, owner of U.S.-based imprint Random House, engaged in unprecedented slashing of costs, including employee layoffs across all sectors, such as dictionaries and travel books, as well as high-ranking Ballantine executive editor Peter Borland and nonfiction editor Jeremie-Ruby Strauss. The company's actions, along with its unwillingness to provide the business press with exact information, led to fears that defensive strategies and cost slashing had replaced aggressive marketing as the strategy for book industry survival in the 2000s.