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IPA-WIPO publishing industry pilot survey published

The first joint IPA-WIPO study is published today. It represents a solid starting point for future studies. We look at some of those results and other recent articles explaining the importance of gathering publishing industry statistics.


The IPA has initiated a partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organisation, WIPO, to help gather global statistics on the book industry. It will be updated and added to each year, enabling year-on-year comparisons and measuring the impact of policy and market changes on the sector. The WIPO-IPA pilot study conducted in 2017 as a first step to a full survey already includes interesting data about 2016 trends.

The survey covers 35 countries. The main findings include:

  • Based on the comparable date from 11 countries, total net revenue from sales and licensing for publishing amounts to USD 41.9bn with the US reporting the largest net revenue of USD 23.9 bn;
  • China publishes far more titles (57.8 million) than the next nearest country (the UK with 49,433);
  • Print editions account for the bulk of total retail sector revenue. However digital editions accounted for around 28% of the total in China and 24% in Colombia.

You can read the WIPO-IPA pilot study here.

At the IPA International Publishers Congress in New Delhi in February this year, IPA Secretary General, Jose Borghino, called for more industry statistics. He's not alone.

Since the Congress there have been two fascinating publications making the same case. First up is the journal Logos, the journal of the world publishing community, published by Brill. The latest edition includes the article 'Book Statistics. What are they good for?' authored by Miha Kovač, Angus Phillips, Adriaan van der Weel and Rüdiger Wischenbart. The article examines methodologies, what different metrics tell us about the health of the publishing industry, and the reliability of certain indicators. The article also underlines how challenging it is to have a clear view of digital publishing when one of the biggest players in the field, Amazon, doesn't use ISBN numbers or publish data about its own activity. You can read the full article here which we reprint with very kind permission from LOGOS 28 (2017) 7-17, © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2017. Please visit their website to learn more: www.brill.com/logo.

Rüdiger Wischenbart was also a guest of the Copyright Clearance Center's podcast series Beyond the Book in February where he shared some new publishing industry data. Some of the interesting facts included the rise of China as a publishing powerhouse, the reasons behind similar consumer spending figures in France and India despite vastly different populations, and how growing middle classes do not automatically lead to increased target audiences for publishers.

All of this goes to show why industry statistics are essential to publishers' understanding of their markets and to the IPA's advocacy and lobbying work. WIPO will be sending out new survey questionnaires in the next few months and it is important that publishers associations encourage their governments to collect data and respond to WIPO's surveys so that next year's IPA-WIPO study can be even more extensive and useful.

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