What you need to know

2018 was a good year for print books following a slightly stagnant year in 2017. The success was driven by some standout titles from debut authors including Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt. The current divisive political environment in both the UK and US also fuelled the print market in 2018, with a boom in sales of political books such as, notably, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury.

Waterstones acquired Foyles in September 2018 in order to further protect itself from the threat of Amazon, while Waterstones’ parent company Elliott Management purchased major US chain Barnes & Noble in June 2019. Independent stores, meanwhile, grew in number once again. While still a far cry from independent stores’ heyday, this increase indicates a generally more favourable current environment for physical bookstores.

While e-book sales continue to struggle, the value of audiobooks grew further. Advancements in AI and voice assistants are presenting both book formats, but particularly audiobooks, with opportunities to experiment with interactive storytelling.

Products covered in this Report

This Report covers print and digital books (ie e-books and audiobooks) through all channels. E-books are all books readable on dedicated e-reader devices like the Amazon Kindle, or through smartphone or tablet applications or desktop/laptop browser extensions.

For the market size of consumer print books Mintel uses data from Nielsen BookScan which monitors retail book sales.

For the market size of digital books Mintel uses data from The Publishers Association which reports the invoiced value of UK publisher sales of digital consumer books. This include e-books, audio downloads, online subscriptions and other digital book sales.

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