European Book Sales Faltered in 2020 (

Year-end book sales across Europe were slammed by December lockdowns after Covid-19 cases surged across the continent. Still, preliminary results in three major markets show declines for the full year were modest.

In Germany, Europe’s single largest book market, sales were up 25% in the first two weeks of December over 2019, but they plummeted when a new lockdown was imposed on December 16. Overall sales for the year were down 2.3% compared with 2019, according to BUCH, a German book publishing trade group. Bookstores saw sales drop 8.7% for the year, but gains by online booksellers and platforms offset that decline.

“It is true that books played an important role for people during the crisis,” said Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, head of the BDB, in a press release. “There was great enthusiasm for reading and demand for books was high for much of the year. But the shutdown in December thwarted the industry’s plans. The renewed store closings in the middle of the Christmas business stopped the race to catch up from lost sales due to the shutdown in spring.”
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