In Germany: Younger Consumers Are Buying More Books

In News by Porter Anderson

The Börsenverein and Libri.Campus will lead a May 11–12 program with new data showing that young consumers, 16 to 29 years old, are buying more books.

Image - Getty iStockphoto: Finn Hafemann

Image – Getty iStockphoto: Finn Hafemann

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

Vnukowsky: ‘A responsibility to promote and maintain this passion’
In a reflection of a major line of discussion in this year’s Scuola per Librai Umberto e Elisabetta Mauri in Venice—more on that event is publishing from us shortly—a special evaluation panel of the GfK Consumer Panel “MediaScope” Book group in Germany has generated some new insights into the purchasing behavior of 16- to 29-year-olds.

The top-line observations is that young book buyers “are becoming more and more active on the book market” with increases tracked in spending and a rise in their book-buying trends per capita.

Also, as observed extensively at the Mauri School on the Italian and European markets, various social media (still a plural word) are becoming increasingly important as a source of inspiration for younger consumers.

The study, which used a particularly large sample of 20,000 respondents, was commissioned by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, in association with the book wholesaler Libri.

The Libri.Campus program is to hold a focal event on this data and its implications on May 11 and 12, with a title Generation Book: Meet and Inspire.

Core Results: Comparing 2022 to 2017

Image: Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels and the Buchgroßhändlers Libri

  • The number of buyers of books for private use—excluding school and specialist books—has, like the total number of buyers, declined among German consumers aged 16 to 29, by 18 percent.
  • That decline is described as a drop from some 4 million to around 3.3 million people.
  • Expenditures on books among young people increased, however, by 8 percent—from €392 million to €425 million (US$433 million to US$469 million).
  • That growth is particularly strong at 19 percent among 16-to-19-year-olds.
  • The “purchase” intensity of those who buy books rose significantly by 23.9 percent: In 2017, 9.4 titles were bought per capita, while in 2022, it was 11.7.
  • Among 16- to 19-year-olds, purchase intensity increased by 58.9 percent, from an average of 7.5 books in 2017 to 12.0 books now.
  • Social media are becoming increasingly important as a source of inspiration for young people: almost every fifth euro spent on books among 16- to 29-year-olds is now based on recommendations in social networks and from influencers.
  • In the case of 16- to 19-year-old respondents in Germany to this study, the ratio of recommendations from social media is larger than one than one in four.
Kraus vom Cleff: ‘One of the crucial questions for our future’

In a prepared statement, Peter Kraus vom Cleff, the Börsenverein‘s general manager, is quoted, saying, “How well we as an industry succeed in getting young people interested in reading is one of the crucial questions for our future.

Peter Kraus vom Cleff

Peter Kraus vom Cleff

“The figures show that books are very popular with teenagers and young adults, despite growing media competition. But they also show that we cannot sit back and relax.

“The KulturPass for 18-year-olds—which the federal government is launching in the summer—is an important measure.

“At the same time, publishers and book retailers are committed to developing new ways of reaching out to young customers, for example with the Libri.Campus, which we are happy to support this year.”

Alyna Vnukowsky

And, speaking for the Libri.Campus program, the Libri board’s Alyna Vnukowsky, says, “Young people’s enthusiasm for books is a tremendous opportunity for the book market and for a free, enlightened society.

“In the book industry, we have a responsibility to promote and maintain this passion in the long term, but above all to expand it, especially [for] those who aren’t naturally encouraged to read.

“We’re making our contribution here by developing approaches on the Libri.Campus for and with bookstores to reach and retain young reading target groups even better in the future.”

This year marks the Libri.Campus program’s 20th year, and the company refers to itself as, “the largest training event for the independent book trade in Germany.”

The company describes itself as holding its flagship event in Bad Hersfeld, with “various formats taking place throughout the year as part of the Libri.Campus.

“They’re offered to the independent book trade with a goal of providing impetus and promoting networking and exchange.”


More from Publishing Perspectives on the German book market is here, more on the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels is here, more on young readers is here, and more on and more on the freedom of expression and freedom to publish is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson 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 (Fellow, 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.