Snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the UK publishing industry
24 July 2020
Research conducted by Maverick Publishing
Specialists with publishing leadership during the first
stages of the Coronavirus pandemic in May and June shows widespread
impacts across the publishing industry, with industry leaders
reporting deep financial, sales and operational challenges as a
result of the crisis. The findings contained in a new report, "The
COVID-19 Pulse Check Report: The Impact of COVID-19 on the UK
Publishing Industry," published on 24 July 2020, provide a snapshot
of the current state of the industry.
The full report and analysis can be downloaded from the
following URL: https://www.maverick-os.com/covid-19-pulse-check-report.
Report author, Jeremy Brinton said:
'The findings show that publishers of all sizes and in all
sectors are experiencing unprecedented disruption in sales and to
normal working practices. Unlike other major disruptions the
industry is facing, publishers are struggling to plan for the long
term for the impact of Coronavirus as they do not know how the
pandemic will unfold, how long the lockdown will last and what the
overall financial fall out will be.
The report highlights major challenges facing the industry from
the immediate and rapid falls in revenues, an accelerated move from
print to digital, supply chain disruption and adjustments to
operations from individuals and teams facing working from home
challenges to decisions to furlough staff.'
Co-author, Chris Wilkins commented:
'Our research shows that the financial effect is deeper and more
severe for educational and academic publishers than for trade.
Trade publishers are delaying major launches, but it is the
academic houses who are most deeply affected. With the number of
overseas students planning to study at UK universities declining
precipitously, there is a major effect on revenues. The economic
fallout will be huge, some universities are looking at declines in
revenues of over 75% and this is affecting procurement and
expenditure with the industry.'
The report authors conducted 18 in-depth interviews, with an
online survey deployed through ALPSP and the
Publishers Association. In interviews, publishing
leadership flagged how Coronavirus is accelerating market trends
that were already challenging traditional publishing practice. The
findings cover not only major changes within sectors of the
industry, but also surfaced how the pandemic has affected patterns
of sales between lists and content types, with some notable winners
ALPSP Chief Executive, Wayne Sime added:
'ALPSP was pleased to support this research from its inception.
The impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented, and the need for our
members to respond both rapidly and effectively to the pandemic
required them to quickly adapt their business models to continue
delivering quality content. This report captures the UK publishing
industry's initial reactions to the impact of the virus and is
intended to assist individual publishers by refining their
short-to-medium term strategies.'
Jeremy Brinton added:
'The crisis is accelerating trends especially for houses that
were not yet fully engaged in the transition from print to digital.
It is forcing changes in how customers, such as universities,
receive and pay for content and will inevitably drive changes in
business models for many publishers that haven't yet gone through
this process. Trade, while partly escaping this, is also having to
deal with impacts from changes in home working and vendor
relations. One positive emerging from the crisis is the industry
could become more agile with a digital-first product focus.'
See also Mark Chandler's article in The
Bookseller of 24 July 2020: Academic lists likely to be hardest hit by
pandemic, new report finds.