98 British publishers folded last year due to e-books, discounts

Almost 100 publishers closed in Britain in the last year; e-books and discounts were the cause, according to an accounting firm's report. Above, the London skyline.
(Dan Kitwood / Getty Images)

Ninety-eight British publishers closed their doors in the year ending August 2013. The cause? E-books and online discounts.

Closures were up 42% over the previous year, according to the Guardian. The companies that folded included the 26-year-old healthcare publisher Panos London, and Evans Brothers, which published popular children’s book author Enid Blyton for 30 years.

During 2012, e-book sales in Britain rose by 134% to more than $346 million. While print sales still dominate the bottom line in Britain with more than $4.6 billion in sales, that total was a 1% drop from the year before. The trend is toward e-books, and that trend has not been good for publishers.


The accounting firm issuing the tally, Wilkins Kennedy from Companies House, cited e-books, discounting from Amazon, and online trading in secondhand textbooks as the significant factors in the closures. Academic publishers, magazines and journals were included in the tally of closed publishing businesses, as well as trade book publishers.

“The rise of Amazon and other discount sellers with massive buying power means the pressure on publishers’ margins is now immense,” said Anthony Cork of Wilkins Kennedy told the Guardian. “While publishers might be able to sustain relatively small margins on a bestseller, it is much harder for niche publishers.”


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