The figures revealed by the 2022 Publishing Entities Survey shed light on a concerning trend in the Maltese publishing landscape. Between 2021 and 2022, a significant majority – 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), solidifying its status as a crucial source of information, providing accurate statistics on the dynamics of the Maltese book industry. Following consultations with key publishers and the NBC board, a new questionnaire was introduced, with specific survey questions aimed at addressing the specifics of the Maltese publishing landscape. The survey’s findings delve into more than just production costs, uncovering shifts in publication patterns, budgetary allocations, and the growing cohort of self-published authors.

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 0% 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 3 authors under contract with them in 2022.

A comparison between the number of books published with the ISBNs issued reveals that the community of self-published authors in Malta continues to be on the rise. It is essential to note that the data on ISBNs, as covered in the NSO survey, is not directly comparable to other national and officially registered records, including the NBC ISBN database. Discrepancies may arise due to the NBC database’s inclusion of unique ISBNs for each format of a book title, different languages, and distinct hardback and paperback editions, if applicable.

The 2022 Publishing Entities Survey illuminates a significant challenge for Maltese publishers. The gathered data assumes paramount significance for the National Book Council (NBC) as it embarks on crafting policies, implementing integral changes and engaging with industry partners, reflecting the industry’s resilience and adaptability in the face of evolving challenges. The insights derived 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.

For detailed findings, please visit NSOPublishing Entities Survey 2022.

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