With this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival now well underway, a new poll suggests Scottish writers are proving as popular as ever …
Almost seven out of every ten (68%) Scottish adults claim to be buyers of new books by Scottish writers – and just under a third (28%) of Scottish adults purchase at least one new book by a Scottish writer every six months. These are some of the results of a new opinion poll commissioned by independent non-political charity the Saltire Society.
The poll results also indicate that contemporary Scottish writing has a broad appeal across different age groups. 18-24 year olds and those aged over 55 are the most likely to buy new books by Scottish writers, with 72% respectively in each age bracket claiming to ever do so. Adults aged between 45 and 54 are the least likely to buy new books by Scottish writers, with only 60% saying they ever do.
73% of women claim to be buyers of new books by Scottish writers compared to 63% of men. Conversely, only 23% of Scottish adults say they never buy new books by Scottish writers.
Glasgow has the highest proportion of people who say they buy new books by Scottish writers with 78% of the adult population claiming to do so. Meanwhile, those in the regular habit of buying new books by Scottish writers are most likely to be found in the South and West of Scotland. 8% and 9% of adults living in these areas respectively claim to buy new books by Scottish writers at least five times a year.
According to trade body Publishing Scotland, Scotland’s publishers typically account for an annual sales turnover of approximately £343m at invoice value, making the industry an important contributor to the Scottish economy.
Meanwhile, figures from the UK Publishing Association show there were 380 million new physical books sold in the UK last year with a total net invoiced value of £1.612 billion.
An omnibus survey of 2000 British adults conducted as part of an industry report published by Book Marketing Limited in 2005 found that one third of the population never purchases books. Based on that finding, the new poll suggests new books by Scottish writers are achieving a high level of penetration amongst Scotland’s book-buying public.
The results of the poll have been released as nominations close for the 2014 Saltire Publisher of the Year Award. Organised annually by the Saltire Society, the Award is sponsored by Creative Scotland and offers the winning publisher a £4000 cash prize to assist further development of its business. The winner of the inaugural award in 2013 was Glasgow-based small independent publisher Saraband, who impressed the judging panel with their “shrewd and strategic business thinking in a shifting context” and “fresh thinking in their use of digital technology”.
The 2014 winner will be announced as part of the Saltire Literary Awards ceremony on the 11th November.
Saltire Society Executive Director Jim Tough said: “There’s a common misconception that Scottish writing is a minority interest and one that’s only likely to appeal to an older demographic. There is a growing concern also that the younger generation is turning its back on book buying in favour of modern screen-based entertainment.
“In fact, this poll shows Scottish writing and the purchase of new books by Scottish writers appeal to Scottish adults of all ages. The fact that such a high percentage of Scots claim to buy new books by Scottish writers, even if only occasionally, should be a real source of encouragement for the Scottish publishing industry.
“I think it’s also a real testament to the breadth of writing talent there is in Scotland, spanning all genres and including factual as well as fictional writing. By being creative and constantly seeking out new ways to attract a wider audience, Scottish publishers can help to ensure Scottish writing has a bright future for many years to come. That is exactly what the Saltire Publisher Award seeks to encourage and recognise.”