Australian publishing is a dynamic and vibrant industry.

Publishers bring an author’s work to life and connect readers with stories they love, information they trust, and materials that help them learn.

They invest in the ideas and careers of authors and researchers, providing support and protecting their rights. They promote author’s works to the widest possible audiences – both locally and internationally – enriching the lives of readers and ensuring creators’ works are seen and valued.

Our members produce books across a range of genres, formats and categories – including fiction and non-fiction for all ages; educational material and learning software for primary, secondary and tertiary education; and professional and scholarly books and journal articles.

They make these works available in print, audio, digital and other emerging formats in order to make books and reading as accessible as possible for the wider community.

The books and stories publishers put out into the world become the basis of interpretations in dance, theatre, radio, television and film – and form part of a greater ecosystem of national arts and culture.

Publishers promote literacy, defend freedom of speech, advance research, and stimulate the intellectual and cultural discourse that is central to a democratic society.

Sectors

The Australian publishing industry comprises two main sectors: trade and educational publishing.

Trade publishing

Also known as commercial publishing, this covers companies ranging from the large and multinational, through to independent and niche publishers. These publishers work with fiction, non-fiction, illustrated and children’s books, and increasingly also cover areas such as audiobooks, specialist publications and gifts.

Trade publishers typically work with authors and their manuscripts to turn these into books, before selling these into bookshops, and other publishers around the world, to get them into the hands of readers.

Full bookshelves and a counter at Readings Books
Photo courtesy Readings Books
Photo courtesy Firefly Education

Educational publishing

Educational publishing is concerned with producing books, journals, and an increasing variety of digital resources, sold to schools, colleges and universities as part of their curriculum.

While it may not be the side of publishing portrayed in books or movies, the educational publishing industry is an exciting and enriching industry for those looking to work in the publishing industry.

This part of the industry helps shape the nation through content specially developed for teachers and students in maths, science, humanities and other disciplines across primary, secondary and tertiary learning.

Key stats:

  • The Australian book industry produces roughly $2 billion for the Australian economy annually.
  • It employs roughly 3,700 people across Australia (IBIS World) across trade, children’s and educational sectors.
  • The publishing industry sells around 56 million books a year (according to 2015 data) and produces roughly 22,000 new titles annually (according to 2019 data).
  • Of those, paperback books make up roughly half of all formats published, while hardback comprises another 10%.
  • Educational books make up the largest share of the Australian book industry, representing over 41% of books sold, and generates roughly $62M in export revenue annually.
  • Adult non-fiction books hold the second-largest share of the market at 27%, followed by adult fiction (14%) and children’s books (8.2%). (IBIS World)