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How has the global pandemic affected publishing sales across Europe
By Tim Dare, Managing Director, Mosaic Search & Selection
Publishing sales have fluctuated across Europe with some publishers seeing increases while others have decreased. Why is this the case and how did the pandemic change things?
Sales of both printed and digital books were impacted by the global pandemic in 2020 and 2021. As a result, the publishing industry has endured a very complicated and tricky time. On the one hand, there are reports of sales increasing for some European publishers. On the other, many companies experienced a significant decline in sales because of the ongoing pandemic.
The question is, how did the pandemic affect things in both a negative and positive sense?
An increase in demand for books
Both fiction and non-fiction books experienced an increase in demand throughout the pandemic. Logically, it’s easy to connect the dots and see why this is the case. People across Europe were locked down and had more time on their hands. As a result, many looked to books as a way of easing the boredom and repetitiveness of daily life.
Consequently, this can explain why many publishers saw a rise in book sales. For a period, the world went baking mad, so lots of cooking and culinary books sold really well. There was also a positive impact on digital publishing as well. Specifically, audiobooks were up 71% in the first half of 2021, when compared to 2019. For digital publishers, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise as it prompted an increased demand in both fiction and non-fiction work.
A decrease in supplies
However, one of the reasons some publishers saw a decline in sales can be put down to the ongoing supply chain issues they faced. Throughout the height of the pandemic, supply chains across the continent were thrown into disarray. For a publisher, this meant that they struggled to get the supplies needed to actually print physical copies of books. Not only that, there were ongoing problems with shipping during the early stages of the pandemic. Even if publishers had copies of books to sell, it was almost impossible to actually ship them out to certain places.
Consequently, while the demand for books was there, many companies struggled to meet it. This created an incredibly frustrating scenario where businesses knew there was money to be made, but they lacked the resources to make it. It also goes some way to explaining why sales of digital publishing – like audiobooks – were on the rise. Because people couldn’t get their hands on physical books, they opted for the alternatives where possible.
In conclusion, the global pandemic has had an interesting effect on publishing sales across Europe. In many instances, it has led to an increased demand for books, boosting sales for a lot of companies – particularly in the digital publishing sector. However, problems with supply chains and logistics in the earlier part of the pandemic meant that a lot of businesses suffered and saw sales decline when compared to previous years.
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