Germany’s KulturPass: Books Lead in Unit Sales

In News by Porter Anderson

Expenditures made by young Germans on the new KulturPass have generated more than €3.2 million in revenue in two months.

In Munich. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Wirestock

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

In Unit Sales, Cinema and Concert Events Trail Books
In roughly two months, Germany has seen more than €3.2 million in revenue (US$3.5 million) generated for cultural products, events, and services thanks to the rollout of that market’s new KulturPass for 18-year-olds. And we have it from the cultural minister Claudia Roth’s offices that unit sales of books are resoundingly in the lead in these young adults’ expenditures.

Image: Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien

In Publishing Perspectives‘ July 13 report on the “culture vouchers” report from Europe’s Resilience, Innovation, and Sustainability for the Enhancement of Bookselling (RISE), we had seen Germany’s KulturPass activated on June 14, offering €200 (US$219) to 18-year-olds who register on the app.

That rollout has followed the Roth’s pilot project, and has a budget of €100 million (US$109.8 million).

Today (August 9), thanks to information provided to us by Roth’s offices at Germany’s Ministry of State for Culture and the Media, we have independently confirmed a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, published in Munich, indicating that to date, books hold a substantial unit-sale lead in how the young-adult KulturPass holders are spending their allocated funds.

This trend reflects that described by the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE), in which Italy’s corresponding “18App”—the original “culture voucher” for young citizens in Europe. There, in 2021 specifically, the publishers association reported that 18-year-old Italians were spending 80 percent of their €500 vouchers on books during January and February of that year.

In Germany this summer—and noting that this is a comparatively young culture voucher, just coming up on its second month of operation—the books-first phenomenon is holding, with the number of purchases of books showing a commanding lead in the expenditures young Germans are making with their cultural allotments.

Here are the statistics we’ve been given this morning.

Some 136,000 18-Year-Olds Hold KulturPasses

A spokesman for Roth’s ministry tells us that nationwide, some 136,000 18-year-olds already have activated their €200 vouchers since that June 14 opening of the program.

In terms of voucher activity for the nation’s participating cultural entities, more than 196,000 expenditures have been made on the KulturPass, generating more than €3.2 million in revenue (US$3.5 million) in Germany’s cultural sectors.

This breakdown shows the trend lines discernible so far:

Cultural Product or Sector Number of Units Purchased Using KulturPass Percentage of Total
Books 95,543 48.74 Percent
Cinema 70,754 36.09 Percent
Concerts and Theater 27,417 13.99 Percent
Museums and Parks 1,166 0.59 Percent
Musical Instruments 757 0.39 Percent
Audio Media 361 0.18 Percent
Sheet Music 29 0.01 Percent
All Combined 196,027

In terms of monetary value, a Börsenblatt report based on the Süddeutsche Zeitung article indicates that concert and stage expenditures are in the lead, at something around or above €12 million (US$13.2); books follow with so €11 million (US$12.7 million); and cinema tickets follow in third place with €461,000 or more (US$505,900).

Below is the KulturPass graphic developed by the RISE program, co-funded by the European Union and operated as a three-year program of the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF), the intention of which is “upscaling, reinforcing, and maximizing the capacity and resilience of the European bookselling sector.” The graphic offers some background information on the KulturPass itself.

An analysis graphic of the Germany KulturePass, introduced June 14, 2023. Image: RISE Bookselling


More from Publishing Perspectives on bookselling is here, more on culture vouchers and their development is here, more on the German book industry and market is here, and more on the work of Germany’s ministry of culture 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.