Book sales across Europe have been stronger since the waning of the pandemic, though are beginning to slump. Inflation, as well as lingering supply chain issues, paper supply issues, and the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and resulting energy concerns have all led to a crisis in consumer confidence.
Germany, Europe’s largest book market, saw total sales in the book industry rise 3.5% in 2021, according to a report just released by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the association of German publishers and booksellers. In 2021, the industry generated total sales of 9.63 billion euros, compared with 9.30 billion euros in 2020.
That said, the first six months of 2022 saw an 11.1% decline in sales at bookstores, and an overall decline of 3%, when online retail is included, compared to the same period in 2019. This means sales have dropped from pre-pandemic levels.
In France, unit sales are down almost 6% for the first half of 2022, compared with the same period in 2021, according to the Syndicat National de l’Edition (SNE) the French publishers association, which covers approximately 150 publishing houses. That said sales for 2021 were deemed "exceptional," by the SNE, up 9.7% over 2019 and up 12.4% from 2020 when the pandemic had shuttered many bookstores,
The sales growth in 2021 was driven by the government declaring bookstores as “essential businesses” at the beginning of the year, as well as a 55% increase in comic book sales, particularly manga, which was fueled by the government establishment of a “Culture Pass,” which gives all 18-year-olds across the country €300 to spend on books, as well as art, music, theatre, and more.
In Italy, 2021 saw total sales revenue rise 16%, to 1.7 billion euros. But the first six months of 2022 have seen a drop in overall revenue of 4.2% from the same period in 2021 – though this is still 14.7% higher than pre-pandemic revenue from books sold in the first six months of 2019. In Italy, comics sales have also surged, growing 23.7% compared with the same period in 2021 and 245% compared with 2019.