Book sales were down 13.9% in Germany for the first six months of the year compared with 2019, according to the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the German booksellers association. As of April, the number was even worse—down 21%—but it has since recovered somewhat as German bookstores have largely reopened after a period of lockdown due to the coronavirus.
During the lockdown itself, between March 23 and April 19, in which bookstores had closed in all federal states except Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt, sales were down 65.7% compared to the same period in 2019. In 2019, the German book market saw €9.29 billion in total sales, which was up 1.7% over 2018.
“The pandemic hit the book industry badly economically, but also released a lot of creative energy,” said Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, director of the Börsenverein, citing the launch of new delivery services and online events and the robustness of online stores as assets that have helped the industry through this time. “However, due to the lack of marketing opportunities, many publishers were forced to postpone new publications or to drop them entirely—many of which are titles by unknown authors and niche titles, which is alarming.”
The German government has supported an extensive promotion campaign for books, and the Börsenverein has continued to lobby the government for support, arguing it is necessary to sustain the bookselling ecosystem in light of the ongoing pandemic.