Australian book publishers in the global industry: survey method and results

14 Feb 2018

The book publishing landscape has changed considerably in recent years with a rise in the popularity of self-publishing, the entry and growth of new fee-for-service presses, and the availability of self-publishing platforms on booksellers’ online sites. The present survey of specialist trade book publishers and their responses to global changes in the industry forms part of the second stage of a major study of Australia’s changing book industry, funded by the Australian Research Council (DP140101479) and Macquarie University. The first stage was a survey of more than one thousand book authors, and the final stage has been a survey of book readers. The present Report discusses the background and objectives of the publishers survey, describes the sampling process and survey implementation, and presents the principal results. Aspects covered in this Report include changes in the number of titles published, changes in the proportions of Australian authors, constraints affecting publishers’ response to change, and the overall impact of changes over the last five years. Data are presented on publishers’ response strategies, including changes in strategies in the following areas: relationships with authors; workflow planning; product range; release date timing; use of market research; staffing; book promotion; and strategic links. The survey results contain mixed findings for the Australian book industry. The data show noticeable variation in different publishers’ assessments as to whether changes in the industry over the last five years have been positive or negative for them. Overall, about one-third of trade publishers report that changes in the industry have been mostly positive for them, one-third say they are neither positive nor negative, and one-third assess that the changes are mostly negative. Nevertheless the survey data show that trade publishers across the board are innovating and responding to global changes in the industry by making significant changes to their workflow planning and management, organisational roles, market research, products and strategies for promotion.

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