Germany’s Ebook Market January to June: ‘Slight Growth’

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In the first half of 2022, consumers bought more ebooks per capita and paid more for them, offsetting a smaller buyers’ base.

Following what Schengen Visa reports has been a rising level of tourism in Germany, Oktoberfest opened in Munich on Saturday (September 17), after being canceled for two years by COVID-19 spread-mitigation measures. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Foot Too

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

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Average Price of an Ebook Up 0.4 percent to €6.48
In its interim report today, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, cites “slight growth” for the first half of 2022, with its ebook market growth now returning to pre-pandemic levels.

As our Frankfurter Buchmesse inaugural Publishing Perspectives Forum program prepares a look at the cost of doing business in publishing, we have news today from Frankfurt’s German market in terms of ebooks and consumer sales in the first half of this year.

Sales of ebooks in the consumer market increased “significantly,” of course, in the first half of 2020 (17.8 percent) and again in 2021 (9.6 percent). But those sales increased only by 3.0 percent in the first six months of this year, as compared to the January-June period of last year.

The share of the trade (consumer books) market held by ebooks increased in Germany by 0.2 percentage points to 8.1 percent, according to today’s media messaging.

Some 20.9 million ebooks were sold, the report indicates, which represents an increase of 2.5 percent over the first half of 2021.

The average price of an ebook in the first half of this year in Germany rose by 0.4 percent to €6.48 (US$6.38). Image: Börsenverein

The share of the trade (consumer books) market held by ebooks increased in Germany by 0.2 percentage points to 8.1 percent, according to today’s media messaging.

Some 20.9 million ebooks were sold, the report indicates, which represents an increase of 2.5 percent over the first half of 2021.

Number of Buyers vs. Purchasing Intensity

In this chart, one thing we see is that fiction was by far the leading category in ebook sales in the first half of the year, followed by young readers’ content, then travel, counseling, and nonfiction. Image: Börsenverein

Today’s report is not extensive and doesn’t try to go into analytical discussion.

But what stands out is a couple of data points that describe two competing dynamics in the statistics:

  • The number of book buyers, the Börsenverein’s information indicates, fell by 7.1 percent to around 2.5 million. In the first half of 2020, that pool of buyers stood at around 2.7 million. By last year, the number of buyers had dropped by 1.2 percent.
  • And yet “purchasing intensity,” the trade organization says, continues to increase.

“This explains why sales increased slightly despite the decrease in buyers,” the report’s authors write. “In the first half of 2022, buyers bought more ebooks per capita and also spent more on them: With 8.4 ebooks, they bought more titles on average than in the same period of the previous year (2021: 7.6).”

“The total expenditure per buyer increased by 10.8 percent,” the Börsenverein says, “to €54.52 (US$53.67).”

The trade association, in cooperation with GfK Entertainment, reports every six months on the development of the ebook market.

Projections of ebook sales and turnover come from the GfK Consumer Panel Media Scope book with a total 20,000 people acting as respondents. They’re selected as a sample representative of the German resident population aged 10 and older, for a total 66.2 million people. All individual purchases are recorded.

Tourists in Bavaria’s Rothenburg ob der Tauber, September 7. News reports indicate that tourism in Germany by some metrics was approaching pre-pandemic levels prior to the opening of Oktoberfest on September 17. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Jan van der Wolf


At Frankfurt, please join us for the inaugural edition of Publishing Perspectives Forum, a two-day program of leading and influential professionals in the international publishing industry discussing today’s challenges, dynamics, and trends.

Attendance is free of charge for all Frankfurter Buchmesse exhibitors and trade visitors. The program language is English. You’ll find full details and developing news here

More from Publishing Perspectives on the German book market is here, more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on ebooks is here, and more on industry statistics is here.

More from us on the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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