Taiwan’s book market is some US$1.4 billion and this is mainly divided into trade books (US$800 million in sales) and educational and academic books (US$600 million). U.S. publishers have dominated the local market as suppliers of licensed titles and imported books accounting for over 40 percent and over 25 percent per year, respectively. The popularity of the Internet and increasing availability of e-content viewable on a variety of electronic devices such as e-book readers, computers, and smart phones has been widely adopted and provides new opportunities for U.S. publishers.
For decades, the U.S. has been the leading supplier of translated titles in Taiwan and translated books accounted for 45 percent of the overall local production of books. The number of titles imported each year for translation is estimated to be 4,000-5,000, and the U.S. leads all countries supplying over 40 percent of all translated titles in Taiwan. Other leading suppliers of translated titles are the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia. Over fifty percent of all translated books are English- to-Chinese translations, followed by simplified- to traditional-Chinese (15 percent), Japanese- to- Chinese (15 percent), French- to- Chinese and German- to- Chinese. The most popular categories of trade books in Taiwan are literary works, business and management, children’s books, lifestyle, language learning, self-help, health and cook books.
Taiwan’s demand for imported books in English from the U.S. remains strong, and the U.S. is the leading supplier of imported books. Imports of books and periodicals were valued at US$152 million and US$143 million in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The estimated value of imported books for 2011 is about US$138 million, and this 4 percent decrease is due to the weaker consumption of paper publications, which is being replaced by electronic content. In 2010, Taiwan imported about 30 percent of its books from the U.S., or US$38 million, of which US$34 million were printed books and US$3 million are periodicals and journals. Imports from the U.S. educational books for pre-k through 12th grade and higher education accounted for a significant portion of the market in Taiwan. Local parents use imported children’s books to begin teaching their children English at an early age, and imports of children’s books increased from US$2.9 million in 2007 to US$3.5 million in 2010. In addition, compulsory English classes begin in the third grade in Taiwan, and many Taiwan schools purchase imported children’s books, readers and other educational books as supplementary teaching materials improve students’ English reading and writing abilities. Higher education institutions purchase a considerable amount of imported books every year for teachers, students and their libraries. English is widely used in the business world in Taiwan and many working people study English in their free time in order to obtain better jobs.
In Taiwan, Japanese-style comics (manga), young adult magazines and novels have been successful for over a decade with Japan supplying over 60 percent of the comics books during that same time period. In the past two years, novels for teens and young adults have increased in demand and are predicted to continue to grow for the next two years. In addition, with increasing alternatives of electronic reading devices, electronic content has developed a growing demand with great potential in the Taiwan market. Recently more and more eco-friendly books using recycled paper are available in the Taiwan market. Local industry contacts estimate that this segment of the industry will continue to grow for the next three to five years.
The size of Taiwan’s book market remained around US$1.3 to 1.4 billion for the past three years. Educational and academic books make up a large part of the book market and their sales reached US$600 million. Sales of fiction and non-fiction trade books and other periodicals equaled approximately US$680 million, and other printed materials accounted for US$63 million. Global imports into Taiwan decreased from US$152 million in 2009 to US$143 million in 2010, and this is attributed to an increase in reading digital media and less consumption of paper books in recent years. There is increasing competition from Mainland China, Korea, Japan, United Kingdom, and Australia. In 2010, imports from UK totaled US$24 million, Japan (US$25 million), and imports from Mainland China, including Hong Kong, amounted to US$28 million. Market demand for books in simplified-Chinese at lower production costs has also grown over the past five years.