According to trade organization Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, a strong holiday season helped the German book market increase sales in 2021 by 3.2% in value year-on-year and 0.8% compared to 2019.
“The book has proven to be crisis-resistant during the pandemic,” said Börsenverein president Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, adding that people continue “to have a great need for good stories, information and in-depth advice. as well as inspiration”.
The strongest categories in 2021 were children’s and youth books (up 9.4% in value from 2019), fiction (up 4.2%) and non-fiction (up 4.2%). 1.6%). Unsurprisingly, during a pandemic, sales of travel literature fell 26.4%.
Actual numerical totals will not be available until later in the year.
Last year’s bestselling novel surprised many booksellers, but touched readers. In the absence of a must-have Christmas book, German novelist Juli Zeh has risen to the occasion. His novel Über Menschen (Random House GmbH), about the city’s move to the remote East German hinterland, entered the spring bestseller lists and continues to sell well.
While the overall figures – which include e-commerce (with Amazon), travel bookstores, department stores, electronic retail outlets and pharmacies – beat expectations, the market is not as stable as the raw data might suggest so. The industry is extremely concerned about the state of brick-and-mortar bookstores which are traditionally seen as the flagship of German bookstores but which have suffered greatly during the pandemic. High street sales fell 3.1% year on year and 11.5% from 2019 as booksellers were unable to make up the shortfall after weeks of store closures left them with sales down more than 30% when they emerged from the general spring confinement.
Although December brought well-deserved joy with double-digit sales growth of 11.8%, the mood, particularly among independents, remains gloomy. They fear that the market momentum is mainly driven by online stores. With strict Covid restrictions in place including mandatory mask-wearing in shops, restaurants and on public transport, increased shopping restrictions for those unvaccinated and an ongoing political debate over the compulsory vaccination, attendance on the main street shows no signs of recovery.
On a positive note, Schmidt-Friderichs pointed to the growing number of booksellers, large and small, who have taken advantage of the pandemic to invest in their own online stores and/or improve their digital presence. “This is welcome news given the increased pressure from significantly rising costs, for example for paper and energy, which will continue to affect the book industry in the new year,” he said. she declared.