Rise in paper prices is major hit for Maltese publishing industry

Rise in price of paper in 2022 leaves 75% of book publishing entities facing a surge in the costs of book production

A concerning trend in the Maltese publishing landscape has emerged in the NSO’s publishing entities survey, showing that between 2021 and 2022, three out of four publishing entities (75%) encountered a surge in book production costs.

Notably, 16.4% responded that they attributed up to 100% of the increased costs directly to the rise in paper prices. Of the entities surveyed, 58% reported experiencing up to a 20% increase in costs compared to the preceding year.

This marks the third consecutive Publishing Entities Survey conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in collaboration with the National Book Council (NBC).

The data indicates a marked decline in digital publications, representing a mere 0.5% of the total published books. Interestingly, commercial publications constitute a substantial portion, contributing up to 65% of the overall income, despite a noticeable uptick in the production of educational books.

As far as new books are concerned, the survey shows that there was a slight increase in the number of sub-licensed publications from the previous year. Since most of the books published were original titles, this means that there is a certain resistance to the sale and purchase of foreign rights.

The survey also reveals that 47% and 40% of publishing entities allocated between zero and less than 20% of their budget to the promotion and marketing of their product, respectively. Another point that emerges is that 60% of the publishers who answered the survey only had up to three authors under contract with them in 2022.

The NBC said the survey fidings will play a pivotal role in the forthcoming meetings and working groups scheduled for 2024, eventually contributing to the formulation of the NBC strategy roadmap for the years 2025-2030.

Other data

Estimates of the Publishing Entities Survey indicate that in 2022, the number of new titles published increased by 5.2 per cent compared to the previous year.

English and Maltese were the languages in which most books were published, with 52.7 per cent of publishers publishing titles in each of these languages.

In 2022, 78.2 per cent of publishers collaborated with three or less editors, with 32.7 per cent of publishers operating without engaging any editors.

Consistent with the preceding two years in this time series, most publishers have continued to partner with three or fewer authors, with 60% of them having engaged three or fewer authors.

Compared to the previous year, an increase of 31.2% was registered in the number of printed books sold, reaching a total of 548 titles, of which 415 for trade publishing and 133 for educational publishing.

In regard to the sales channels used, the “online” channel was the most used, with a total of 437 titles sold through this channel in 2022 for both trade and educational publishing titles.