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There’s a General Global Decline in Book Sales, Why?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

globe south americaAccording to data presented yesterday at the IfBookThen conference in Milan by David Walter, Research and Development Analyst for Nielsen BookScan, book sales around the world are in general decline. Sales in the US in 2012 were down 9.3%, Spain -10.3%, South Africa -8.8%, Italy -7%…to cite just some examples. Walter noted that sales in the UK fell by 3.4%, data which corresponds with that from Bowker Market Research cited in our feature story today, “UK Book Buyers Spend Less, But Still Loyal to Print.”

The one bright spot around the world was India, where sales were up 16%, but this was “not nearly as large a jump as we had anticipated.”

Certainly in Spain and Italy, you can blame the recession. But the US claims its economy is in recovery. So what’s going on?

In South Korea, where book sales there were down 20% in 2012, the drop was blamed on a simple phenomenon: “Korean’s don’t read books and don’t read newspapers,” wrote The Korea Times.

Earlier this month a New York Times Op-Ed, called out Mexico as “The Country that Stopped Reading” and blamed a failing education system for the lack of commitment to reading.

Clearly, despite the best efforts of the publishing industry to innovate and advance into the digital age, something else is being lost. Could it be something as straightforward as a lack of focus on fostering literacy and a love of books and reading? Or are there larger social and economic changes afoot?

>One thing is for certain, without a stronger dedication to books and reading, society will be all the poorer for it in the long run.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.