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USA Today: The US Book Industry Lost More Jobs in the Past Decade

The internet has made many jobs redundant in much the same way that the word processor made the typing pool a thing of the past, and nowhere is that more true that in the book industry.

USA Today just published a list of industries that lost the most employees over the last decade, and the various parts of the book industry made the list no fewer than three times as positions go the way of the buggy whip.


24. Book and periodical merchant wholesalers

• Employment change 2008-17: -37.6%
• Employment total: 36,184
• Wage growth 2008-17: +7.9%
• Avg. annual wage: $44,372

Book and periodical merchant wholesalers is one of many industries that has been hit hard by the rise in the digital media industry. As people increasingly read their book, magazine, and newspaper content online, book and periodical wholesales are seeing reduced demand from retailers. With the industry in decline, employment has dropped 37.6% over the past decade.

13. Book stores and news dealers

• Employment change 2008-17: -43.3%
• Employment total: 81,003
• Wage growth 2008-17: +22.5%
• Avg. annual wage: $38,779

With the growing use of digital media, from newspapers to magazines to books, as well as growing competition from online retailers, the book retailing industry has taken a battering. Amazon has about 50% of the U.S. market book market share, while the largest brick-and-mortar book retailer, Barnes & Noble, has about 20%. One in eight Barnes & Noble locations have shuttered in the past seven years. Overall, employment in the book stores and news dealers industry has declined by 43.3% from 2008 to 2017

12. Support activities for printing

• Employment change 2008-17: -44.2%
• Employment total: 23,920
• Wage growth 2008-17: +126.6%
• Avg. annual wage: $52,346

Support activities for printing is yet another industry struggling due in part to increased digitization – employment decline in the industry over the past decade was one of the largest. Fewer than 24,000 Americans remain working in the support activities for printing industry, down from nearly 43,000 in 2008. The industry includes book binding, embossing, and engraving. But books, magazines, and stationary are quickly being replaced with online versions of the products.

Automation, outsourcing, and the changing technological landscape are expected to cost these industries even more jobs in the future. Martin Kohli, chief regional economist for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, said that in the next decade publishing jobs will likely continue to decline. “Our 10 year projections did show continued shrinkage in print publishing,” Kohli said.

That cold draft you just felt isn’t from the gaps around the door; it’s the Grim Reaper, coming for your job.

image by Sigfrid Lundberg via Flickr

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