Sales of paper books surge in the United Kingdom in 2022

18 April 2023

Paper, or physical, books are by no means relics of a bygone era, if sales thereof in the UK last year are anything to go by. Six hundred and sixty nine million books were purchased in 2022. Against a population of sixty seven million people, that equates to about ten books per person.

A Year in Publishing, a look at the state of the book market by trade body the Publishers Association, found that sales were up 4% from 2021 in 2022, 669m physical books were sold in the UK, the highest overall level ever recorded.

UK book exports also increased by eight percent, with Heartstopper, by Alice Oseman, topping the list of books sent out of the country. To date, there are now five books in the Heartstopper series — which has spawned a Netflix TV show — with a sixth, and final, title on the way.

Meanwhile in Australia, nearly seventy one millions books were purchased in 2022, an increase of about eight percent on 2021, according to Nielsen BookData figures. I’m not sure what quantity of books sold were physical, but it seems bookshops had a good year, so I’m guessing a lot were paper.

It’s to be hoped bookshops in Australia (and elsewhere, of course) are doing well again, after a difficult few years. While it’s purely anecdotal, I saw that Dymocks, a large Australian bookseller, is opening a brand new store in the Sydney suburb of Bondi Junction in June. Saying re-opening a bookshop is probably more accurate, as the company did have a shop there, which closed several years ago. While opening one bookshop does not a trend make, the move can only be a good sign.


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