Books & Publications

The books and publishing industry is witnessing a transformation with the rise in popularity of e-books and e-readers. Publishing houses have now broadened the scope of their services to include the digital domain as well. E-books and audiobooks are revolutionising the way books are being consumed. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, as education and work shifted online, the demand for printed books and publications decreased. In 2020, the total revenue generated by the U.S. book publishing industry went down to $7.85 billion, compared to the $8.39 billion in revenue generated in 2019. However, the demand for children’s graphic books soared by 18.2% compared to 2019 to generate a revenue of $192.8 million in 2020. 


  • The major players in this industry are diversifying into digital publications to continue being relevant.
  • Factors like digital publications, inflation, and the adoption of artificial intelligence are impacting the books and publishing sector significantly, mostly driving it towards innovation. 
  • Over the coming years, print books are unlikely to shift entirely to the digital medium; instead, a hybrid economy of print and digital will rule the business model of books and publishing companies.



$70.52  billion



$15.3 billion




A graphical representation of the revenue of largest book publishers worldwide

(Source: Statista | As of 2020)


Company NameRevenue GeneratedRevenue GeneratedRevenue GeneratedRevenue GeneratedRevenue Generated
Thomson Reuters$6.6B$6.3B$6.0B$5.9B$5.5B
John Wiley & Sons Inc.$2.1B$1.9B$1.8B$1.8B$1.8B
McGraw-Hill $1.7B$1.5B$1.6B$1.6B$1.6B

(Sources: Statista, Macrotrends, Zippia, WordsRated)

  • Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TSI): Thomson Reuters is a Canadian media conglomerate that is also one of the biggest legal publishers in North America. With over a century of experience, Thomson Reuters is now an integral part of law practice in the U.S.thanks to its publications for professionals.
  • HarperCollins (NYSE: NWSA): HarperCollins Publishers LLC is owned by News Corp and headquartered in New York.It’s the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world, and publishes around 10,000 new books in 16 languages annually. 
  • John Wiley & Sons Inc. (NYSE: JW.A): John Wiley & Sons, commonly known as Wiley, caters mainly to the scientific, technical, and medical communities, and publishes resource materials, research papers, manuals, test preparation guides, scientific and educational books, journals, and encyclopedias.
  • McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHED): As one of the “big three” educational publishers, McGraw-Hill content, software, and services students of all ages, from pre-kindergarten students to postgraduates. It also offers trade publication services for the business, engineering, and medical communities. Currently, it has 3,900 employees globally and operates in 135 countries.
  • Scholastic (NYSE: SCHL): Scholastic focuses on children’s magazines, books, and teaching resources, and is the largest publisher and distributor of children’s books in the world. It serves customers in more than 150 countries and in 45 languages.


  • Digital publishing: Both e-books and audiobooks are in high demand in 2023. The audiobook market was worth $5.38 billion in 2022, and is estimated to be worth $6.8 billion in 2023. As a result, publishing companies are acquiring resources to offer diverse digital publishing alternatives. Also, publishing companies can get larger profit margins with the digital medium, as there are no additional expenses for printing or supply chain management. 
  • Artificial intelligence: The intervention of artificial intelligence in creative works is helping the industry grow more rapidly. From editing manuscripts to translations, artificial intelligence has begun playing a greater role in the production of literary works. Moreover, AI is also being used to generate ideas for book covers and marketing. 
  • Self-publishing: The demand for self-published books has grown multifold. 17 out of the 100 top-selling books on Kindle are self-published. As self-publishing is easier and doesn’t involve a literary agent, more and more authors are shifting towards it. So, the books and publishing industry now needs to attract both readers and authors. 
  • Market consolidation through mergers and acquisitions: 80% of all book sales in 2021 were of books published by five companies across the United States. Experts believe that such consolidation will deteriorate the quality of publications, reduce competition for manuscripts, reduce financial gains for everyone else, and make it difficult for authors to approach the companies. 
  • Security measures against piracy: Books especially in digital form are now widely available at a low cost. Since authorised versions are so easily available now, the informal market of piracy is largely being formalised. Individual licensing, copyright, and security features synced with e-reader accounts further mitigate the threat of piracy in digital publications. More and more authors are registering their work with copyright authorities to prevent the unlawful distribution of their work. These developments mean that a larger share of revenue will get captured, which bodes well for this sector’s stocks in the long run.


Some observers believe that the print book industry is all set to go extinct, but this is very far from the truth. Fiction print book sales in retail stores increased by 8.9% in 2021, compared to the previous year. Even the non-fiction category showed a growth of 8.3% in comparison to the previous year. Such trends project a flourishing future for the books and publishing industry, irrespective of popular misconceptions.

With the changing preferences of the millennials and Gen Z, major publishing companies are branching out to digital mediums of publication. In all probability, the future will not be an absolute slide from print to digital, but a hybrid economy of print and digital.
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