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

Sales of school textbooks have fallen because of schools' stretched budgets, says the Publishers' Association

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.”


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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.”

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