Book Industry Stats for Australian Authors / Publishing Stats 2023

Book Industry Stats for Australian Authors / Publishing Stats 2023

December 31, 2023

Here is a collection of stats released throughout 2023 (you can see 2024 book industry and author stats here) that may be relevant to Australian authors (traditional authors and indie authors) and publishers. Hope it helps you with your understanding of the book industry and for your planning for 2024!


Book Distribution in Australia

United Book Distributors (UBD) is the largest book distributor in Australia. It’s owned by Penguin Random House and it’s Australian head Matt O’Brien discussed plenty of stats on The Bookseller’s Podcast (episode 10), hosted by Jaye Chin-Dusting from the Mary Martin Bookshops and Mark Rubbo from Readings. Stats included:

  • In the low season UBD ships around 85,000 to 140,000 books a day (an average of 90,000-100,000 per day)
  • The average number of books shipped in the October to December period is around 160,000 per day, with with a peak day in 2023 of 330,000.
  • Two-three years ago UBD stocked approximately 48,000 different titles, but due to the pandemic effect, in 2023 the company stocked approximately 63,000 to 64,000 different books.
  • At any one time they may have 30,000 pallets of stock and they shipped to approximately 67,000 addresses including book stores and drop shipping for various publishers.
  • They freighted approximately 16 million kg of books in 2023, and Australia has unique challenges due to the size of the country.


Australian Bureau of Statistics: Cultural and Creative Activities

My summary:

  • Women read more than men. Keep this in mind when planning your book, make either women or men your primary target ie: writing a book ‘for everyone’ very rarely works, define your target audience and double down on it.
  • Children are participating in reading for pleasure less than four years ago, therefore, the children’s book market is tougher to crack.

 The detail:

  • Women (39%) were more likely to participate in cultural activities than men (25%).
  • 25% of women attended a library or archive, compared with 16% of men
  • 90% of children (aged 5-14 years) participated in screen-based activities (in-line with 2017-2018 data). Of these, 24% spent 20 hours or more per week undertaking screen-based activities (up from 16% in 2017-2018). 40% spent 10-19 hours per week on screen-based activities.
  • 72% of children (aged 5-14 years) participated in reading for pleasure (down from 79% in 2017-2018).
  • Of this 72%, 32% read for 2 hours or less per week while only 2% read for 20 hours or more per week.
  • Reading for pleasure was higher among children aged 5 to 8 (76%) and 9 to 11 years (78%) than those aged 12 to 14 years (63%)
  • 39% of children (aged 5-14 years) participated in arts and crafts activities, while 19% (down from 23%) participated in creative writing.
  • Source for the above: Australian Bureau of Statistics (released 2023 from 2021-2022 data)


Percentage of Australia’s attending writers talks, book launches, book clubs and other literary events

My summary:

Attendance at live literary events has dropped due to COVID and possible cost of living will impact attendance in 2024. But writers – these events are so fun – get out there and support your fellow writers! You can see a list of Australian Writers Festivals and literary events here.

The detail:

  • 6% of Australians attend writers’ talks or book launches (down from 8% in 2019).
  • 6% of Australians attend book club events (consistent with 6% in 2019).
  • 5% of Australians attend readings including poetry and storytelling (down from 6% in 2019).
  • 4% of Australians attend writers’ festivals (down from 6% in 2019).
  • 7 out of 10 Australians read books for fun (similar to 2019)
  • Source for the above: Creative Australia’s The National Arts Participation Survey


Australian Book Sales Statistics 2023 – How many books might you sell?

You’ll find some really rich data about Australian book sales in this blog post featuring Nielsen BookScan and Nielsen BookData statistics here.


How many books do bookstores return to publishers?

Approximately 15% of books are returned by bookstores to publishers under what is known as ‘sale or return’. Statistic quoted in the Inside the Green Room podcast episode ‘Bookseller’ (Feb 2023) and you can read more about it in my blog post/find the link to listen to it here.


Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) Big Indie Author Data Drop 2023

Some really interesting stats to help guide you as an indie author, but there are also lots of learnings for trad-published authors too – such as there are more chances of success when writing in series. Also includes author earning statistics. Summary is here.


Australian Amazon Kindle stats

  • 50% of Australians only read between one and five books in 2022.
  • Physical books remain the majority of books read (67.9%).
  • The most popular genre is mystery (31%), followed by true crime (26%), non-fiction (24%) and romance (20%).

Source: ‘Read All About It‘, an article about the latest Amazon Kindle research, Thuy On on ArtsHub, 19 Jan 2023


Australian Society of Authors 2023 Author Earnings Survey

The ASA’s Author Earnings report for 2023 shows the reality of (mostly traditionally-published) author earnings in Australia.


Audiobook Market Stats from ALLi June 2023 Newsletter

The Audio Publishers Association’s latest report suggests the audiobook market grew by more than 10% for an 11th year, with revenue in the format hitting an estimated $1.8bn in the US in 2022.

This contrasts with the American Association of Publishers’ latest Statshot report, which has the digital audiobook market at 10.4% of a $28bn total book market. This report rates that as just a 2.6% rise. But that puts it within touching distance of the 10.8% that digital ebooks occupy. And contrasts with ebooks’ 8.5% decline.

Of course, readers who’ve spent any time at all in these parts will know that these figures are all incredibly problematic as they fail to account for a huge number of indie sales. That is one reason why ALLi launched its Indie Author Income Survey.

Source: ALLi – The Alliance of Independent Authors