fewer new titles and sales in Covid-hit years, women and young readers more avid

The pandemic-hit years have impacted Georgian publishers and booksellers by reducing sales and books released, with the first year of Covid-19 seeing a 25% reduction in new releases and the last two years showing a 40% drop in book sales, new industry research shows.

Released on Tuesday, the local market study was commissioned by the Georgian Association of Publishers and Booksellers and the Writers’ House of Georgia from Tbilisi-based Analysis and Consulting Team (ACT).

Involving a range of data, the report shows trends among readership, bookstore sales and publisher statistics. While going back beyond 2020 in some numbers, particularly notable sections are numbers reflecting the effects of the pandemic over the past two years.

The study shows a reduction in both the number of book titles sold in 2020 and 2021 – with a 17% drop – as well as the total number of sales, with readers buying 40% fewer books during the same period. Reinforcing data reflecting the impacts of the coronavirus, a quarter fewer new titles were released in 2020 compared to the previous year.

[The data from the study] is of vital importance for the local publishing industry to understand market trends and assess its own achievements and shortcomings […] as well as for us to introduce various personalities of the Georgian book market to crucial international organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization and the International Association of Publishers

Gvantsa Jobava, vice-president of the Georgian Association of Publishers and Booksellers

The dynamics of the first year of Covid-19 figures also indicate that, despite the 25% fewer books sold in 2020, sales revenue was only down by 5%. Professionals from both sponsoring organizations pointed to increases in book prices over the past few years as the likely cause of the discrepancy.

The report presents a variety of data, including the participation of Georgian publishers in international fairs. Photo via Georgian Association of Publishers and Booksellers.

Expanding on the latter trend, the report shows a 28% increase in book prices between 2016 and 2020. Distribution company revenues have been reduced by 15-18% in 2020, from around 14 million to 12 million GEL ($4.6m/€4m to $3.9m/€3.5m).

The ACT study also examines local book readership and shows that 50% of the adult population in six cities – the capital Tbilisi, the western cities of Kutaisi, Batumi and Zugdidi, Gori in central Georgia and Telavi in the east of the country – by reading books “with varying frequency”, the remaining 50% having not read a single title in 2020.

Reflecting the overall demographic distribution of the country, literature enthusiasts are disproportionately represented in Tbilisi (51.8%) compared to the rest of the country (45.4%).

The report shows that women make up a significantly larger share of the readership, with 59.3% spending time on books, compared to 38.4% of men. Younger respondents also made up a larger share of book lovers in the population, with the tendency to read decreasing from 65.3% to 38.3% with age.

In the remaining data released as part of the report, four publishing houses have been identified as leaders in the Georgian market, with Palitra L Publishing, Sulakauri Publishing, Intelekti Publishing and Artanuji Publishing being prominent players in the scene.

Covering the years 2016-2020, the ACT study follows on from the previous local book market research of 2015, and was carried out over a period of one year.

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