Nielsen BookData and GfK Entertainment, media research firms based in the U.K. and Germany, respectively, have released their first joint annual report on book markets around the world.

Despite challenging conditions in many markets, 12 of the 16 countries included in the report recorded revenue growth, many of them in Europe, including France (+1.5%), the UK (+1.2%), Italy (+3.4%) and Spain (+4.6%). Further afield, both India and Mexico also ended the year with significant growth (+7.1% and +11.4% respectively), with only four regions, including Australia (-2.1%) and New Zealand (-5.4%), ending 2023 with a revenue decline. (In the U.S., Circana BookScan reported that unit sales fell 2.6% in 2023 at the retailers that report to the company; the service does not assign dollar estimates to the unit sales figures).

The revenue increases were achieved in spite of falling unit sales, with unit volume decreasing in nine of the 16 markets analyzed. It therefore follows that average prices were significantly up, and this can be seen particularly in the UK (+6.6%) and in Brazil (+7.7%). Out of all the countries in the report, only Australia registered a slight drop in prices (-0.4%).

The overall picture of increased prices offsetting declining volume sales leading to an increase in the overall market value was particularly evident in South Africa: although that market recorded the largest decline in unit sales (-7.7%), it also reported the most significant price increases (+9.6%), resulting in an overall revenue gain of 1.2%.

The revenue increases were achieved in spite of falling unit sales.

The categories that saw the highest growth last year included travel guides and health books; both had double-digit increases in nearly half of the countries included in the report, while biography (led by Prince Harry’s Spare) also performed well, with Spare the best-selling nonfiction book overall in Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, the U.K., and Belgium Wallonia. James Clear's step-by-step manual Atomic Habits was the most popular nonfiction title in India, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and Colombia, all markets for which book data was collected for the first time in 2023.

Romantic fiction, often in the form of Colleen Hoover, continued to be an important genre, but the boom in the comic book segment fell back, although the new Asterix, Asterix and the White Iris, was the bestselling book in both France and Belgium Wallonia, and a top three title in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The survey is based on physical point-of-sale data from 2023 for Australia, Belgium (Flanders/Wallonia), Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, and the U.K. The results can be downloaded at and For Nielsen BookData Research enquiries email:; for GfK enquiries email

This article first appeared in the U.K. newsletter BookBrunch.