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2023 Publishing Recap

That’s a wrap on 2023!

As the new year finally begins, here are some highlights and important things to know or remember from the past year, as well as what your publishing colleagues are predicting for the future! We’ll go over lawsuits and concerns regarding artificial intelligence, sales reports from 2023, changes to audiobooks, and some trends/predictions for 2024 & beyond.

The Problem(s) with Artificial Intelligence

Sales Trends

  • Jim Milliot revealed in January 2024 that print book sales for 2023 fell 2.6%from 2022; however, that may be surprising to very few and much less than what doomsdayers had feared. Adult fiction performed best with juvenile titles struggling the most. That being said, print sales are still 10% ahead of pre-pandemic 2019.
  • In the first three quarters of 2023, publishing sales stayed relatively flat with modest increases in adult books and higher education titles along with a drop in children’s and young adults sales.

Audiobook Advances

  • Spotify now offers audiobooks on their platform. What does this mean?According to the Atlantic, older songs now represent 70% of the music market, and the new music market is actually shrinking, allegedly due, in part, to Spotify and the many other music streaming platforms. In 2020, 90% of royalties went to the top 0.8 percent of artists. Which has left some people wondering… will the same thing happen to the book publishing industry?
  • In 2022, the global audiobook market was valued at $5.4 billion and is projected to reach $35.04 billion by 2030, meaning the audiobook market is projected to grow by 26.4% every year for the next seven years.
  • How many people listen to audiobooks?Short answer—a lot. Nearly half of Americans listened to an audiobook in 2022, a number that has been steadily increasing since 2015.
  • This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your anxiety. AI can now create voices for audiobooks—which is maybe great news for a budget but bad news for audiobook narrators.

Now for some Good News

  • Public Domain Day 2024: As of January 1, 2024, thousands of copyrighted works from 1928 entered the US public domain, along with sound recordings from 1923.
  • Midwestern Booksellers are gonna “ope, lemme just squeeze past ya there” in sales. Booksellers in the Midwest (including Kansas, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Kentucky) reported a strong finish to 2023 holiday sales, some seeing increases of “a whopping 31% from Black Friday on”!
  • America’s most “recession-proof” businesses are bookstores!In 2023, Forbes Advisor assessed 60 small business types to evaluate which were the most recession-proof businesses in the United States. The answer?! Bookstores! With reasonable startup costs, bookstores enjoyed steady wage growth during the Great Recession (+13%) and the pandemic (+16%). In 2022, 300+ new independent bookstores opened in the United States.
  • Barnes & Noble plans to open 50 stores in 2024after strong sales and significant growth.

Looking Ahead to 2024

The world is definitely a different place than it was even 20 years ago. We at Firebrand Technologies are excited for the challenges 2024 will bring and will continue to provide amazing solutions to help publishers manage the many technological advances they may face—no matter what!

Here’s to a great new year!