Timely International Publication Credited as Part of Romania’s Stronger Market

In Feature Articles by Jaroslaw Adamowski

A new study finds that Romanian publishers have increased book sales by releasing Romanian translations of foreign books parallel to launches in other key markets.

At Bucharest’s Passage Macca Villacrosse in April. Image – iStockphoto: Elena Photos

By Jaroslaw Adamowksi | @JaroslawAdamows

Study: Around 1,000 Publishers
While some book markets in Eastern Europe see sluggish sales this summer, Romania’s publishing industry is anticipating growth. Its revenue is expected to exceed 1.1 billion leu (US$279 million) this year, up from last year’s 1.086 billion leu.

The Bucharest-based consultancy KeysFin recently released a study of the country’s book market, providing sales estimates of the combined “turnover of publishers and booksellers in Romania.”

The analysis points to a number of trends behind this market expansion, and main dynamics behind higher sales are said to be:

  • Increased sales based on Romanian publishers’ efforts to make their products more attractive readers
  • Heightened focus on children’s books
  • Timely translations of new international authors and popular nonfiction

As described in the study’s discussion, “This evolution” of the market’s ability to find new responsiveness in its consumer base is seated in “significant efforts made by publishers and bookstores to increase the attractiveness of their offer.

“From [focusing on] more contemporary or nonfiction literature translations, to the launch of new foreign authors or books simultaneously with [releases in] major cities of the world—and especially the development of a segment that has already become very strong: children’s books.

Cristina Balaban, KeysFiu marketing manager, provides Publishing Perspectives with a number of examples of the initiatives she and her team are outlining in the work of industry players.

Upgrading the Publishing Offer: Timeliness

“One recent global launch,” Balaban says, “was Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark [HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, January 2017], published in 33 languages, among them in Romanian.

“Others examples include the nonficton titles Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir [Hachette/Basic Books, October 2017] by Irvin D. Yalom and The Atlas of Beauty: Women of the World in 500 Portraits [Penguin Random House/Ten Speed Press, September 2017] by Mihaela Noroc.

“And the famous French social psychologist Jacques Salomé recently toured several Romanian cities to launch his latest book, A Hint of Eternity [Les Éditions de l’Homme, April 2017],” Balaban says.

On Victory Avenue in Bucharest, April 2018. Image – iStockphoto: Elena Photos

Children’s Books and Higher Margins

A rising popularity in children’s books is borne out as a driver in Romania’s sales trend, in data reported by KeysFin.

Regarding “the rapidly developing category of children’s books,” Balaban says, “the wide offer includes both new Romanian authors with increasing popularity, as well as translations of popular international authors.”

At the same time, she says, higher book sales have translated into increased profit margins for local publishing industry players.

“Based on the business consolidation process,” she says, “publishers and booksellers have optimized their costs, so that the market’s profit has doubled from 2012 onward, from 51.3 million leu (US$13.7 million) to more than 100 million leu (US$25.3 million), the estimated figure for 2017.”

KeysFin’s analysis indicates, she says, that “The number of companies … remained constant during [the analyzed] period, at around 1,000 publishers and 350 book traders. The number of [their] employees also stayed at around 5,000, with small fluctuations from year to year, with the workforce being almost evenly distributed between publishers and bookstore chains.”

Boosting Readership

In spite of the optimistic sales figures from the Romanian market, some industry players caution that Romania still lags behind other European Union member states in terms of readership.

As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember from our story last month, Ovidiu Raeţchi, a lawmaker for the opposition National Liberal Party (PNL) and author of six nonfiction books, launched a “Pact for Books” legislative initiative to boost book sales.

Raeţchi said he has secured the support of a number of major political parties from the country’s parliament for his proposal, allowing him to initiate seven legislative drafts.

According to data presented by Raeţchi’s office, the average Romanian spends about €3 (US$3.50) on books annually. As of 2016, some 42 percent of Romanian children under the age of 15 years fell into the functionally illiterate category.

“Less than 30 percent of the population reads at least one book during a year,” Raeţchi said, “the lowest percentage in the EU and way below the European average.”

The lawmaker says he hopes the bills will be passed by the country’s parliament by the end of this year 2018, to take advantage of energy around “this opportunity this year, as Romania marks its Great Union centenary–a moment with a highly symbolic value for the country and its citizens.”

On Victory Avenue in Bucharest, April. Image – iStockphoto: Elena Photos

More from Publishing Perspectives on Romania and its book industry is here.

About the Author

Jaroslaw Adamowski

Jaroslaw Adamowski is a freelance writer based in Warsaw, Poland. He has written for the Guardian, the Independent, the Jerusalem Post, and the Prague Post.