School textbook sales fall despite push to promote them

Decline in sales of school textbooks is down to 'the continuing squeeze on school budgets', says Publishers' Association

Catherine Lough

International schools: How to avoid cultural complaints when teaching English literature

Sales of school textbooks in the UK fell by 6 per cent in 2018 despite a drive to increase their use.

The Publishers' Association said "the continuing squeeze on school budgets" had resulted in teachers not being able to afford "the learning resources children need”.

In 2017, schools minister Nick Gibb spoke of how textbooks “provide the detailed knowledge implicit in the national curriculum” and said the “long-term movement away from the use of textbooks might be about to go into reverse.”


Insight: The drive to increase textbook use 'belies a fundamental misunderstanding of what teachers do'

News: DfE scheme to rate textbooks ‘would be devastating'

Research: Less than one in 10 teachers set to use textbooks in most lessons by 2020


Nonetheless, the Publishers’ Association Yearbook 2018 said the sale of textbooks was in decline, with UK sales of school books falling by 6 per cent, from £340 million in 2017 to £319 million in 2018.

School textbook sales in decline

This decrease reflected a 6 per cent drop in sales of physical products (to £279 million), and an 8 per cent decrease in digital school book sales (to £39 million) in 2018.

Digital sales had nearly doubled between 2014 and 2018 from £21 million in 2014 to £39 million in 2018.

However, an 8 per cent decrease for physical school book sales in the UK outweighed a 42 per cent increase for digital books during this period.

Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers' Association, said: “UK publishing continues to satisfy the insatiable consumer appetite for books in all forms.

“Investment in digital is paying off, driving growth and meeting reader demand to access books at any time in the format of their choice.

“Despite good top-line revenues, there are some areas of real concern. School textbooks sales have taken a hit as the continuing squeeze on school budgets mean that teachers simply can’t afford the learning resources children need.”

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

Latest stories

Geoff Barton

Omicron, nativities and the DfE: Another fine mess

Schools are being told what to do by those with no concept of the reality of running a school - and it's only making an already tough situation a lot harder, explains Geoff Barton
Geoff Barton 3 Dec 2021
New headteachers - here are 9 things you need to know

Headteacher wellbeing and sources of 'streth'

Former headteacher Chris McDermott set out to find out the true causes of leader stress and support – and in doing so coined a whole new term, as he explains here
Chris McDermott 2 Dec 2021
Transdisciplinary learning: how to embed it in your school

Why you need a transdisciplinary curriculum

At the Aspirations Academies, six hours a week are dedicated to applied transdisciplinary learning - but how does it work? And should you apply something similar at your school?
Steve Kenning 2 Dec 2021