Do you have a creative mind, a proactive and resourceful nature, good organisational skills and a passion for creating content? If so a career in publishing may be an interesting option for you
The UK publishing industry is the number 1 exporter of books in the world and supports 70,000 jobs in the UK. The market continues to grow with another record breaking year in 2019. The UK publishing industry had an overall sales income of £6.3 bn in 2019, growth of 3.5 % on 2018 figures, according to the Publishers Association latest yearbook.
Annie Callanan, president of the Publishers' Association and CEO of Taylor & Francis said about how publishing has reacted to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic:
'Looking back, I am impressed by how we, as an industry, have fared. We have endured the crisis and have contributed hugely to society during this incredibly difficult time. We adapted, re-focused, experimented and found ways to keep delivering what people need from us. We have delivered books to comfort, provide a temporary escape and generate conversations even when we are apart from each other. We have put high quality resources into the hands and onto the screens of those who suddenly had to continue their education remotely, and we have continued to provide access to robust, peer-reviewed research, the importance of which has never been clearer.'
(Source: The Publishers Association Annual Report 2020. To research how the industry has fared in terms of revenues and data, see the The Publishers Association Annual Yearbook, published in July each year)
The majority of the large book-publishing houses are based in the South. London is the major hub with Oxford and Edinburgh being significant regional centres. Smaller publishers exist in many locations around the UK.
The 'Big Five' publishers in the UK (Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette Livre and Simon & Schuster) make up a significant portion of the market however there are many other employers ranging from the large Bloomsbury and Faber & Faber to the thousands of small companies operating in specialist areas such a poetry, art and local interest.
Types of publishing
There are three broad areas of publishing:
Consumer or trade publishing
Consumer or trade publishing produces the most widely-known titles: best-selling fiction and non-fiction; those most frequently reviewed; those featured in the media; and those prominently displayed in retail outlets. It also includes children’s publishing: it's worth noting that one in every three books is aimed at the children's market.
Consumer publishing is mostly sold through bookshops and online, e.g. via Amazon however a high proportion of children’s sales are made through non-traditional trade channels, such as children's school book clubs and fairs.
Big recruiters include: Penguin Random House, Pan Macmillan, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins
Key areas include producing textbooks, online teaching resources and revision guides for schools, and ELT (English Language Training) material mainly aimed at overseas markets. Locally, Oxford Dictionaries is an important example of ELT books.
Big recruiters include: Pearson, Oxford University Press (OUP), Cambridge University Press (CUP) and Hodder Education (part of Hachette)
Academic and professional publishing
This area includes: academic texts, mostly sold to individuals; monographs, journals and other digital products, mostly sold directly to libraries. STM Publishing falls within this field and stands for ‘Scientific, Technical and Medical’. As the content is technical, having related experience or a relevant scientific or technical background can be useful when working in STM publishing. STM, as well as other elements from this area, serves the ‘professional’ market as well as the academic – consumers are doctors, accountants, and lawyers, for example, as well as students.
Big recruiters include: Lexis Nexis (RELX), Springer Nature, Informa, Taylor & Francis, SAGE, Elsevier, Pearson and Wiley.