At Frankfurt: European Publishers Hear of a ‘Perfect Storm’ Ahead

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Among points presented in the Federation of European Publishers’ report, sales in bookstores fell from 50 percent in 2019 to 43.6 percent in 2021.

The Federation of European Publishers’ Enrico Turrin presents statistical insights into the European marketplace for books and publishing. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Roger Tagholm

By Roger Tagholm | @RogerTagholm

See also: Frankfurt Shorts: FEP, WIPO, and PP Forum by the Numbers

Turrin: ‘This Perfect Storm’
Publishers in Europe may be facing a proverbial “perfect storm” of resurgent demand, bottlenecks in supply, rising paper costs, and the energy crisis.

At the Federation of European Publishers’ (FEP) overview of the European market before and during the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Enrico Turrin, deputy director of the federation, warned “We don’t know what the full impact of this ‘perfect storm’ will be, but it is coming.”

His overview of the market contained good, bad, and good-again news. “The pandemic was good for book sales overall,” he said, “perhaps because people rediscovered reading.

The year “2021 was an exceptional year for book sales in Europe, with sales worth €23.6 billion, up 6.5 percent on 2020 (US$23 billion).”

Children’s books showed particular resilience and represented 15 percent of turnover, Turrin said. Export was strong too, accounting for 18 percent of turnover.

Not surprisingly, sales in bookstores fell from 50 percent in 2019 to 43.6 percent in 2021 as so many stores were forced to close. He also noted that print sales overall in Europe hadn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

But for 2022 so far, he said, there are glimmers of light. “Sales in bookshops seem to be picking up speed this year,” he said.

“And that’s good for publishers because we need a network of healthy independent stores to underpin the book sector.”


Our Frankfurter Buchmesse Show Magazine now is out—in print on the Messe Frankfurt for trade visitors and exhibitors, and here in a free digital download for our world readership online.

The magazine has extensive coverage of issues and trends that are leading discussions and debates at the trade show this year, along with interviews, profiles, and commentary in this strongly attended Frankfurt year. Click here for your download (PDF).

More on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on the international rights trade is here, more on this year’s Guest of Honor Spain is here, more on guest of honor programs and markets is here, more on international book fairs 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

Roger Tagholm

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Roger Tagholm is based in London and has been writing about the book industry for more than 20 years. He is the former Deputy Editor of Publishing News and the author of Walking Literary London (New Holland) and Poems NOT on the Underground (Windrush Press).

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