The book industry comprises several independent but related sectors – authors, agents, publishers, printers and booksellers. Together these sectors play their part in writing, manufacturing, promoting and selling books in Australia.
In recent times the traditional notion of what constitutes a book has changed. Digital books (ebooks) are becoming an increasingly popular option for consumers and this, combined with a growing trend toward online shopping, is transforming the market, requiring the Australian industry to adapt.
- In 2010, the total value of books sold in Australia (print and electronic) was estimated at $2.3 billion. This has grown by an annual average of 5.2 per cent since 2005.
- In 2009-10, the Australian book industry employed an estimated 15,000 people in publishing, printing and book selling, and another 10,000 people in content creation.
- In 2010, Australian book publishers exported an estimated $225 million of books.
- It is estimated that the value of online book sales increased from $17 million in 2001 to $280 million (or 12 per cent of the total book market) in 2010 – an annual average growth of 37 per cent.
- Overseas-based online bookstores accounted for $150 million (or 53 per cent) of online sales in 2010.
- In 2010, approximately $35 million worth of ebooks were purchased in Australia; accounting for 1.5 per cent of the total value of books sales.
*Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2011.
Emerging Issues and Opportunities
There is insufficient collection of industry data, e.g. ebook sales, online book sales, direct book sales from publishers and book sales from non-traditional retailers. Accurate and timely data is necessary to assist firms in making sound commercial decisions and to help the book industry understand the operation environment and plan for the future
Digital technology has meant that copyright material has become easier to share and used to create new works. The Australian Government is currently reviewing the Copyright Act 1968 to identify where intervention is needed, and what forms of intervention are effective in a rapidly changing world.
The time taken to distribute books to the market is falling behind customer expectations. An industry wide approach is required to reduce delivery time, minimise cost and improve access to Australian physical and digital books.
An export strategy needs to be focussed on identifying new and emerging markets, promoting Australian content overseas, and establishing training programs to support digital export initiatives.
A skills strategy is required to improve industry skills in management, marketing and communication, and in the use of digital technologies.
To assist the book industry meet the challenges of the rapidly evolving market, the Australian Government established the Book Industry Strategy Group which proposed a number of industry-led reforms, including the need for continued industry cooperation through a Book Industry Collaborative Council (BICC). During its term the BICC conducted work on the following priority issues: copyright, data, distribution, exports, lending rights, scholarly book publishing and future skills strategy. The BICC completed its term on 30 June 2013, having agreed that an industry body, provisionally entitled the 'Book Industry Council of Australia'; will be established to carry forward the work program identified by the BICC.