Tuesday 20 March 2018

Not dead yet? UK books sales surge despite e-readers

Elizabeth Anderson

UK sales of books, brochures and pamphlets surged 6.7pc last year to £952.6m, adding weight to the argument that e-readers have reached the peak of their popularity.

Since the start of the UK recession in 2008, sales of printed publications and books have risen by an average of 8.6pc each year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The data echo comments from the boss of Waterstones, who said earlier this year that Kindel sales were "disappearing".

Waterstones teamed up with Amazon in 2012 to sell the Kindle in its stores, but in October the chain said it would be removing Kindles from display space and replacing them with print books due to "pitiful sales".

“E-books have developed a share of the market, of course they have, but every indication – certainly from America – shows the share is already in decline. The indications are that it will do exactly the same in the UK," Waterstones boss James Daunt told the Oxford Literary Festival.

The ONS also said that sales of games and toys have jumped 54.8pc since 2008 to £316.2m last year, with growth led by sales of electric model trains and accessories. In total, scale models and construction toys have risen from £8.6m in 2008 to £26.9m in 2014.

Sales of puzzles, valued at £10.5m in 2014, are up from £9m in 2013, but lower than the 2008 figure of £11.6m.

The ONS looked at 3,805 products for its annual report on UK manufactuers' sales by product. In total, the value of UK manufacturers’ product sales reached £363.9bn last year, a 2.6pc increase on 2013.

The report highlighted other trends in the food and drink industry.

Whisky sales have dropped for the first time in five years, falling by 1.6pc as demand slows in emerging markets - particularly in China, where anti-corruption rules have hit gift giving.

Soft drinks and flavoured waters rose 29.7pc year-on-year from £3.44bn to £4.46bn.

Food accounts for the largest portion of product sales in manufacturing, with almost a fifth - £67.8bn - of all product sales coming from food.

There are 25 industries that make up the food division, ranging from relatively small industries such as the manufacture of starches, worth £0.3bn, to the two largest; the operation of dairies and cheesemaking, worth £7.9bn, and the processing and preserving of meat, worth £6.6bn.

Manufacturers of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers reported sales figures of £47.3bn, making this the second biggest category.

Other manufacturers in the metal industry fared less well. Sales of basic metals fell to £6.5bn in 2014, down 4.1pc year-on-year.

Meanwhile sales of precious metals have slumped by 70pc in the last 3 years, from £874.7m in 2011 to £260.4m in 2014.

The copper industry, which had reported strong growth between 2009 and 2011, has seen sales drop 35.2pc, from £727m in 2011 to £471.4m last year.


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