In late June 2013 the Association of American Publishers released its second annual Export Sales Report, a document that provides a valuable overview of the industry's global fortunes over the last 12 months.
The AAP's report reveals that US publishers are increasingly looking to overseas markets as their major growth opportunities. Overall, American publishers reported a 7.2% increase in revenue from sales in non-US markets in 2012. Most of this growth was driven by the export of ebooks, sales of which grew by 63% over this period, with print book export sales up very slightly at 1.3%.
By far the most interesting insight to come out of the AAP's report was that Asia is now the biggest growth territory for many US publishers' English language content. Demand for English-language content in rapidly developing countries such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia reflects the high status these societies place on education and particularly English Language learning. The AAP report singles out education and English Language Teaching (ELT) content as an area of significant growth.
The same statistics also suggested that there is also a burgeoning market for reading as a leisure activity in Asia, led by increased sales and consumption of children's, youth and Young Adult content. While it is too early to draw too many inferences from such statistics, it's tempting to speculate that improved levels of educational attainment among young people in Asia could at last be creating a generation of literature lovers in areas where reading may historically been viewed as a utilitarian activity.
The AAP's report paints a heartening picture of US trade and education publishers using the simplified supply chains made possible by the rise of ebooks to their advantage. This is certainly reflected in American trade publishers revenue which remain buoyant. The “Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry”, a Livre-Hebdo research project placed 8 US-based groups in its Top 50 with a combined estimated revenue of €9.13 billion. The Global Rankings also highlighted that while the US rules the roost in trade publishing, British publishers punch significantly above their weight when it comes to academic and scholarly publishing. Indeed the top five UK companies included in the rankings - Pearson, Reed Elsevier, Informa, Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press - accounted for €13.39 billion, nearly a quarter of total global publishing revenues.