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German book sales down in 2017

In Germany, book trade association Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels has released data showing value sales of books and journals in Germany dropped marginally by 1.6% in 2017.

Overall, the German market generated €9.13 billion (A$14.1bn) in sales in 2017, down from €9.28 billion (A$14.4bn) in 2016, when the market posted its first growth since 2013.

Bricks-and-mortar stores continued to make up the largest sales channel, generating €4.3 billion (A$6.7bn) and making up 47.1% of the market, but they continued to cede market share, down from a 47.3% share in 2016 and 48.2% in 2015.

By contrast, online bookselling revenues, which include the online sales revenue of physical bookstores, rose by 1.5% to €1.71 billion (A$2.6bn), claiming an 18.8% share of the market, increasing from 18.2% in 2016.

Overall sales of ebooks declined slightly by 1.4%, and its market share remained on par with 2016 at 4.6%. The decline in value sales contrasts with increasing sales by volume, with 29.1 million units sold, up by one million on 2016. The disparity is partly due to the declining average selling price for ebooks, which fell by 5.1% from 2016 to 2017 to €6.38 (A$9.87), as well as a 7.7% drop in the number of buyers of ebooks. The people who are buying ebooks, however, are buying more copies, according to the Börsenverein report.

All product categories except school books and textbooks were affected by the decline in sales in 2017. Fiction sales, traditionally the strongest product category, was down one percent. Categories that saw larger drops included children’s and YA, which saw sales decline 2.3%, while self-help books were down 2.5%.

The number of new releases published by German presses dropped marginally, down from 72,820 in 2016 to 72,499 in 2017. Translations remained steady, with a slight increase from 9882 to 9890 translated titles in 2017, with English, French and Japanese continuing to the most common originating languages.

The trade association also released the results of its five-year study, ‘Book Buyers–quo vadis?’, which examines the reasons behind a decreasing number of book buyers.

The report found that between 2013 and 2017, the number of book buyers in the consumer market (which excludes textbooks and specialist books) fell by 6.4 million, with the strongest decline in the 40-49 years age bracket (-37%), followed by 30-39 years (-26%) and 20-29 (-24%). People aged up to 19 years and those older than 50 showed stable or increased expenditure on books.

In 2017, 29.6 million people in Germany bought at least one book. Those individuals who continue to buy books are buying more titles on average (12.4 titles in 2017 compared to 11 in 2013) and are also spending more money on them. The average amount of money spent for private book consumption per buyer increased from €116.70 (A$180.50) in 2013 to €137.40 (A$212.60) in 2017.

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Category: International news