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Less Amazon, more local bookstores

GAccording to Alexander Skipis, the situation in small bookstores has not been that bad in the past Corona years. The managing director of the German Book Trade Association said that there are not many bookstores that have to be closed: “If there are any, it is only a small part.” As soon as the bookstore was approved to reopen, people rushed into the bookstore. Even on the Internet, book lovers will not order from popular online mail order companies.

In the pandemic year, booksellers’ online stores accounted for about 27% of the growth in online market sales Amazon Only reached about 7%. “The combination of physical bookstores and online transactions is clearly what attracts people,” Skipis said. As expected, online businesses in particular have helped the industry, which has grown by approximately 21% during the pandemic year. This helped the book market achieve stable total sales: revenue increased slightly by 0.1% to a total of 9.3 billion euros. Skipis said that it is a “small feeling” that the market can still make up for the loss of sales in the spring of 2020.

Despite this, over-the-counter sales have been affected: overall, booksellers’ revenue has fallen 9%. “That’s too bitter,” Skipis said. However, this “dark side” of market development is entirely due to the pandemic. The retail book trade continues to occupy the largest market share at 42%; thanks to strong growth, the Internet book trade currently accounts for approximately 24%.

Difficult race to catch up

Nevertheless, the pandemic year did not make more people interested in books: the number of buyers fell by 1.5%. Except for 2018, it has been on a downward trend since 2012. Among those who read books, about 25% said they read more frequently during the pandemic, and among those under the age of 29, more than 30% said so. “It makes us very optimistic about the future,” Skipis said.

According to Skipis, the “catch-up” trend in sales this year will be more difficult, with the 2021 lockdown lasting almost twice as long. By the end of June, sales had fallen by 3.7% compared to the half before the 2019 coronavirus outbreak, and in the retail book trade, this number had even fallen by 22.9%. It is difficult to say what will happen in the next few months. However, through positive developments such as the commitment of booksellers and government support, Skipis saw “a great opportunity to emerge from the pandemic.”

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