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Top trends transforming the future of publishing

Valued at $89.25 billion in 2022, the global publishing market is booming – predicted to grow six per cent year on year for the next five years. 


To accommodate the needs of a digital generation, it’s an industry that’s ever-changing and adapting. Below are the top publishing trends we think every writer should know about. 


As a writer, whether your interest lies in digital publishing or print, fiction or non-fiction, it’s important to understand how advances in technology and shifts in public perception are influencing publishing and book marketing.


How can these new developments help you build a bigger audience, engage your readers more easily or make you more profitable?


Check out our list of the biggest changes – and opportunities – taking place within the publishing industry right now. 

Social media is a must 


Social media is definitely the way forward to market both your books and yourself successfully in the 21st century. First, there was #Bookstagram, an Instagram hashtag to indicate book-related photos with associated reviews, discussions and questions.


Having now generated over 85 million posts, it has become a valuable marketing tool for successful users to sell copies of the books and capitalise on the power of the influencer economy. Generating thousands of followers to your account can also attract attention from publishers. 


Now, there’s #booktok which, with 104.8 billion views to date, describes itself as “the biggest book club on the planet”. Hardly surprising since TikTok is now one of the most-used and fastest-growing social media platforms. It reached one billion monthly active users in 2021, hitting this major milestone five years post-launch, compared with the eight it took both Facebook and Instagram.


The UK Publishers Association found that #booktok is inspiring and influencing Gen-Z’s reading habits. In its 2021 poll of over 2,000 2,000 16 to 25-year-olds, almost two-thirds (59%) said that #booktok influencers helped them discover a passion for reading, over half (55%) use it for recommendations, and almost half (49%) visited a bookstore to buy a book as a result. 

Rise of digital 


Over the last decade, whether because of convenience, accessibility or the slightly cheaper cost, both ebooks and audiobooks have grown in popularlity – digital audiobooks experiencing continuous growth througout this period.  


Here in the UK, digital books, journals, and rights generated £3.5 billion in revenues in 2021 (Publishers Association). According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), in 2021, ebooks garnered 10.6% and £$1.1 billion of the US trade sales market, while downloaded audio accounted for $766.2 million or 8.3% of total US sales and physical audio 0.2% or $21.6 million.  


It’s a trend set to continue as new technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), make it easier to access and produce audio files. Grand View Research, which valued the global audiobooks market size at $4,219.0 million in 2021, forecasts that the market will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.4% from 2022 to 2030.


Within this, it predicts the non-fiction audiobook segment to be the fastest-growing, at a rate of 27.7%. This includes academic textbooks, travel guides, self-help books, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, and others.  

Print is here to stay 


Ebooks and audiobooks may now be a mainstay within the publishing industry, but print is here to stay. Whether it is the feel of a book that readers love or the quality of illustrations on paper, print still dominates, accounting for the majority of sales for book publishing houses throughout the world.  


Here in the UK, the Publishers Association revealed that physical books generated £3.5 billion in revenues in 2021, compared with £3.2 billion from digital books, journals, and rights. In the US, the AAP reported that hardcover and paperback sales rose in 2021 to $3.7 billion and $3.1 billion respectively, representing 37.6% and 33.6% market share for total trade sales. 



As an author, you have much more flexibility in how you manage your career than ever before. Self-publishing – distributing your writing yourself – is becoming much easier thanks to more accessible printing options, such as print on demand, and digital publishing, such as Google Play Bookd, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Apple Books.  


Smashwords, the distributor which accounted for nearly half of all self-published e-books, reported a 20% increase in its 192,100 authors served and a 5.7% increase in the 7 31,100 books listed in 2022. It was acquired by and merged with Draft2Digital (D2D) the same year. 


You can sell to readers directly from your own website, though this does rely on building up sufficient brand identity, for example, using #booktok and #bookstagram, or make use of one of the many publishing aggregators who distribute your work across numerous channels and the retailers who will sell it, such as Apple iBooks, Amazon and so on. 


Would you like to gain the confidence and practical skills necessary to produce creative writing of a publishable standard? Discover the University of Hull online MA in Creative Writing: 


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