2022-08-31 Robbie Ferguson

The Book Industry’s Journey to Double-Digit Growth in 2021

Learn how the book industry has seen a resurgence in recent years.

When the pandemic hit, it shook up the way that users consumed content and left the future of the book industry shrouded in uncertainty. The industry has also faced challenges with the emergence and heavy utilization of digital media, as well as the decay of the retail bookstore marketplace.  

Despite this unpredictability, the industry has made a resurgence post-pandemic with a shift back towards physical books. In fact, print has reestablished itself as the preferred mode over digital delivery once again. Though we continue to see an ever-evolving landscape, the future looks bright for the book industry.  


Book Industry Trends in Past Years

Digitalization in the book industry became more prevalent over the last decade as many alternatives, such as e-books and audio books, changed the way readers obtain their content. Book publishers around the world have had to change their way of thinking and the technology they were using to adapt to the needs of their consumers. From eReaders to mobile apps, like Amazon Kindle and Apple Books, readers have found new ways to satisfy their reading appetite with more direct-to-consumer options that allow them to read whatever they want, whenever they want.  

This shift in readership opened new avenues for publishers to maximize revenue. Not only that, but it has also proved that readers in the US and other major markets around the globe still crave the comforts and joy that books bring. 


The Impact of COVID-19 on the Book Industry

The pandemic that started in 2020 was much unlike anything seen before. With lockdowns around the world and people bound to their houses for extended periods of time, the future was unclear for many – including the book industry. Content consumption quickly skyrocketed with millions looking to find reliable news and updates, new forms of entertainment, and most importantly, comfort in the trying times of COVID-19.   

Though e-book sales soared in the early 2010s, it is reassuring to see that they still haven’t made print books obsolete. An estimated 42% of people purchased at least one print book in 2020, while only 15.5% bought an e-book that same year. One study suggests that this is largely because e-books haven’t yet managed to fully simulate the tactile experience of a print book. This proved to be the case during the pandemic as many readers reverted to their roots of reading physical books and indulging in the experience that reading a book brings. This paved the way for the book industry to take a step back in to the forefront of content consumption and possibly changed the trajectory of the entire industry.  


A Bounce Back with Double-Digit Growth

From 2020 to 2021, publishing industry sales rose 12.2% in the US. As states and school districts opened back up, we saw book sales in the K-12 category jump a staggering 34.6% after they had fallen 19.6% the year before. Furthermore, the largest segment of the industry, adult books, had sales increase 11.4% in this time. Other categories, such as children’s books, religion books, and instruction materials also rose.

US book revenue as a whole has grown across all categories from the start of the pandemic until now, with print remaining dominant. It is also important to note that this growth has occurred despite the challenges the industry has seen with increased digital content and decreasing in-person options for book purchasing. Though this isn’t the whole picture, it does give indication that the book and print industry has seen a large resurgence since the pandemic and is continuing to grow to new heights with the help of the innovative strategies and technology that publishers are using to deliver content.  


What the Future Holds

The way that readers consume content has forever changed with the rise of the digital world. However, readers still love the experience of physical books. And with new ways to interact with favorite authors and genres through options like e-books and audio, the book market appears to be healthy once again. Additionally, tech advancements for digital books may allow readers to dive deeper into content, whether that be through embedded videos, interactive images, or even moving pictures. All of this interactive content will play a part in shaping the industry and continue to allow publishers to gain the attention of readers. In the coming years, the industry will continue to grow, adapt, and change for the better with new marketing strategies, AI aided storytelling, and the inclusion of diverse voices.  

Now that the challenges of COVID-19 have subsided, there is an opportunity for the market to take on a new form. Innovation and forward thinking will continue to mold the industry and help it evolve to better connect readers with the content that they crave in the coming years. It is more important than ever to take advantage of this transformation and help move the industry forward.  


Ready to learn how you can capitalize on this industry growth and maximize revenue with an easy-to-use book ERP? Contact us today to learn how to streamline your book order management workflow.