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2020 Winners and Losers of Book Publishing

2020 book publishing world winners and losers predictions 2021 publishing ebooks book production

2020 was an unprecedented year filled with unusual circumstances that rocked the world's economy and business methods. Today, we will take a look at 2020 in hindsight to see the winners and losers of this unfortunate year.

The Losers of 2020

I always say that we should start off with the bad news, so let’s tackle that first. Here are the losers of 2020.

Independent Bookstores:

It comes as no surprise that lockdowns negatively affect local, small, and/or independent bookstores. With no one out and about, sales plummeted by an average of 30%. It is also estimated that many small independent bookstores won’t survive the first quarter of 2021 unless helped by the local community through crowdfunding techniques.

Trade Shows:

Just like bookstores, trade shows were devastated since they had to be canceled due to the pandemic. Reed Exhibitions, the company that puts on the London Book Fair, has experienced a revenue decrease of 70%. Trade shows will continue to be canceled into 2021, and it is likely that many may not return.

Educational Publishers:

With the increase of virtual learning, educational publishers have taken a hit. Textbooks and related school materials simply weren’t needed when learning online from home.

Book Printers:

Book printers have also faced extreme hardship this past year. The biggest printing company in the USA, LSC Communications, ended up going bankrupt and sold off its company in parts. The same thing happened to Quad, the second largest printing company.

The Winners of 2020

Okay, okay, we have had enough of the bad news! Let’s check out the winners of 2020!

Book Sales:

It comes as no surprise that bored people trapped in quarantine finally made progress on their reading list. After the initial disruption, book sales increased substantially in the fall, leading to an overall increase of 8% for the year. It wasn’t just hard copy sales that increased, but digital book sales increased as well.

Digital Subscription Services:

Audiobook and ebook subscription services grew substantially in 2020. Services like Audible, Libro, Audiobooks, and Storytel all saw growth; Storytell alone saw its subscribers increase to 1.3 million!


It comes as no surprise that Amazon saw an extreme boost in sales during 2020, but it also saw a fair amount of scrutiny. Customers have been looking to other services for alternatives to the massive online mogul, including Bookshop. 2020 was Bookshop’s first year on the market, and it was highly successful in its method of using independent bookstores to drive sales.


Dealmaking during a pandemic sounds terrifying, but it went surprisingly well due to people transitioning quickly. While dealmaking has seen little growth for five years, it increased by 11.5% in 2020. The growth was primarily pushed by children’s books, non-fiction, and women’s romance.

What Does All This Mean for 2021?

Unfortunately, the problems of 2020 will continue to leech into 2021. We are still facing the pandemic, cannot shop freely, and will not be back to our regular routine for a while.

Fortunately, the publishing world has taken advantage of the circumstances as best it can through ebooks, online platforms, and methods that can reach the public through the comfort of their own homes.

Digital Content Creators Can Help

Are you curious about how to reach an audience trapped by the pandemic? Give us a call today for a consultation!


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