Publishing industry needs to solve existing problems to overcome difficulties

The publishing industry yielded fruitful results in 2022 but in 2023, especially at the end of the year, it fell into difficulties. Therefore, the industry’s existing problems need to be solved in order to overcome difficulties.


In 2023, the publishing industry reached VND3,700 billion in its revenue while it was VND3,994 billion in 2022. According to Director Nguyen Nguyen of the Authority of Publication, Printing and Distribution, the number of books published in 2023 decreased sharply.

Specifically, in 2023, the total number of publications submitted for deposit was 33,000 copies including 29,000 books, with 450 million print copies and 50 million e-books. This number shows that the publishing industry decreased by about 11 percent in the number of book titles and about 16 percent in the number of copies compared to 2022.

According to data at Ho Chi Minh City Book Street, though the total revenue in 2023 of publishers saw an increase of VND 59.32 billion ( equivalent to 15 percent) compared to 2022, revenue gradually decreased towards the end of the year in the calculation of each period.

Specifically, the industry’s revenue reduced from VND31.7 billion in the first 6 months of 2023 to VND27.6 billion in the last 6 months of 2023 whereas its revenue surged sharply in the third and fourth quarters of 2022.

Mr. Nguyen Tuan Binh, an owner of Binh Ban Book Bookstore - a distributor of 250 publishing units nationwide, said that 2023 was the historic year. Mr. Binh was surprised because, for the past 5 years, he has not encountered this situation. Because sales in the past 5 years have only gone up, but in 2023, it went down at a terrible level, even only equal to 50 percent of 2022's revenue.

Chairman Vu Trong Dai of Thoi Dai Science and Education Publishing Company (TIMES), said that the difficulties that publishing units encountered in 2023 are the consequences of the phenomenon of ‘revenge buying’ - a sudden surge in the purchase of consumer goods after people are denied the opportunity to shop during the lock-downs induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Mr. Dai, after that, purchasing power rapidly eroded, while economic sectors were facing difficulties, making it impossible for them to continue to have a stable source of income like before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also according to Mr. Vu Trong Dai, the goods in inventory during the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic that have not been completely liquidated, now have to bear a huge amount of newly produced goods because of the specific purchasing power in 2022. Thus, Mr. Dai commented that larger publishing units will suffer worse consequences of this dual impact.

Additionally, the above developments were taking place in 2023 and will probably continue in 2024 until the economic condition begins to improve again.

Chairman Vu Trong Dai said that with the phenomenon of ‘revenge shopping’, readers have bought books that they would never normally read. This may cause many publishing units to invest in copyright in large quantities from the end of 2022 because of misjudging readers’ tastes. So, he advised publishers to carefully consider instead of buying massively like before.

Having just returned from the Taipei Book Fair held in Taiwan (China), Director Tran Hoai Phuong of Omega Plus Company, said that the book fair has a separate area for digital publishing, showing that publishers in the world have taken heed of the application of technology in publishing. Along with that, books on knowledge, scholarship, history, and indigenous culture are high on the list of priorities.

This can be seen as a reference and lesson for domestic publishing units to find ways to overcome immediate difficulties, said Ms. Hoai Phuong.

She thought that a new factor in the sales platform of Vietnamese publishing would be TikTok which is promising to open a good place for some publishing units to promote sales in addition to the recovery of publishing chains like Fahasa.

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