Book sales hit a record as children's fiction gains in popularity

books being browsedImage source, EPA

Children's fiction helped drive UK book sales to a record £3.5bn last year, the Publishers Association (PA) has said.

The 6% rise came despite the waning popularity of ebooks, which saw sales fall by 3% to £538m last year.

Sales of children's books rose 16% to £365m, with the increase due mainly to the purchase of printed works.

Readers also flocked to fitness and self-help books, sending non-fiction sales up 9%. Revenues from fiction fell 7%, the PA's annual report said.

Including journals, the PA said that the publishing industry - covering books and journals - saw a 7% increase in sales to £4.8bn.

Exports rose 6% to £2.6bn, benefiting from a decline in the value of sterling, but also rising in line with domestic growth. Exports of children's books increased 34% to £116m.

The export gains reversed three previous years of declines.


In 2015, adult colouring books and the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland helped the swell in physical book sales, while ebook sales fell 1.6%.

This time, books on the Danish concept of hygge, which is usually translated into English as "cosiness", assisted factual sales, as well as fitness books by personal trainer Joe Wicks.

While ebook sales took a hit, digital distribution helped other media.

Journals made a 10% gain last year to £1.2bn, led by a jump in electronic subscriptions.

"Last year, one of the most eye-catching figures from our statistics was that physical book sales were increasing while digital book sales dropped," said chief executive Stephen Lotinga.

"While many will debate as to whether this trend will continue, we should not ignore the fact that digital sales beyond the domestic ebook market are growing."