The Australian book industry continues to hold its share of consumer attention and spending, with ongoing development of consumer ebooks and modest growth in the audio book segment, driven by a strong market push by brands including Amazon-owned Audible.com.
The Australian consumer book market was worth A$1.979b in 2019 and is expected to be worth A$2.063b in 2024, which is a CAGR of 0.84 percent based on the mid-point forecast scenario.
The fastest-growing segment is predicted to be consumer ebooks, with revenue of A$395m in 2019 rising to A$430m in 2024 – a modest CAGR of 1.67 percent based on the mid-point forecast scenario. Print/audio revenue growth will be more modest, with a CAGR of 0.62 percent for the forecast period based on the mid-point forecast scenario. In 2019, print/audio revenues accounted for 80 percent of the market, with ebook revenues standing at 20 percent. By 2024 this will have shifted only slightly; print/audio will make up 79 percent of revenue, and ebooks 21 percent.
Physical bookstores remain important in Australia and Amazon is not yet dominating the consumer book market, having only started selling physical books from a local .au site in Australia in December 2017. Australian company Booktopia, founded in 2004, is currently the country’s largest online bookseller and expanded its offering in 2020 with the purchase of the Co-op Bookshop from administrators9 following the ‘collapse’ of its core product range - over-the-counter academic textbooks.
Audible have been active in market advertising their offering using local identities including comedian Celeste Barber, to reinforce key product benefits tactically during COVID-19, as well as more strategically when positioning their product against other ‘listening’ products such as radio, podcasts and music. While growing modestly, the sustainability of the growth in this part of the ‘book’ market will be largely reliant on the evolving consumption habits of consumers who are becoming spoilt for choice in what they listen to and when.
Australian readers like to celebrate homegrown talent, and this is reflected in some of the trends in fiction. Australian crime fiction has been increasing in popularity since the 2016 publication of Jane Harper’s The Dry. In November 2019, the Australia Council sent four Australian crime writers (Robert Gott, Emma Viskic, Jock Serong and Sulari Gentill) to the US to promote Australian crime writing.11
Australian authors have also seen success in other areas. Trent Dalton’s coming-of-age novel Boy Swallows Universe, originally published in 2018, was a 2019 bestseller and won the Book of the Year prize alongside three other awards at the 2019 Australian book industry awards. It is set to be adapted into a TV series by Joel Edgerton. There was also increased interest in indigenous culture in 2019, with books written by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander authors performing well in bookstores.
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