French Publishers: New Titles Down 18 Percent in Five Years

In News by Porter Anderson

The statistical report from the SNE, the French publishers’ association, shows a downturn in unit sales, though value remains steady.

Officers newly elected and re-elected by the SNE, the French publishers’ association. At the center front is Vincent Montagne, re-elected for a new two-year term. Behind him in yellow is one of the SNE’s directors, Véra Michalski-Hoffmann of Libella. Image: SNE

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

A Five-Year Trend Toward Fewer New Releases
At its annual general assembly today (June 27), the French publishers’ association—the Syndicat national de l’édition (SNE)—has re-elected Vincent Montagne as president for a new two-year term.

Announced during the proceedings were several figures for the 2023-2024 edition of the organization’s market assessment.

The report indicates that with modest revenue growth of some 1.2 percent in the last year—to €2,944.7 million (US$3.1 billion), publishers’ turnover will have experienced modest growth in 2023 driven by an increase in the price of books. This, the publishers point out, is the financial outline of the market “in a context that remains inflationary.”

The trend, according to the SNE’s statistics, shows an opposing dynamic in volume with a drop of 1.9 percent, or 439.7 million units sold. Looked at from a longer-term perspective and in comparison with 2019 before the pandemic, the book sector places its growth factors at 4.9 percent in value and 1.1 percent in volume.

The syndicate—one of the international book business’ most prominent publishers’ associations—points to a drop in the number of new releases in the 2023-2024 market cycle it’s examining today. They point to a pullback of -5 percent in new releases between 2022 (38,743 titles) and 2023 (36,819 titles). That phenomenon, they’re making clear, is reflective of the broader trend among the French market’s publishers.

Between 2018 and 2023, they report, the production of new products fell by 18 percent.

Top Three Sectors: Literature, Comics, Children’s
  • “We see that general literature remains, with a turnover of €627.8 million, the leading sector” (US$671.9 million), according to today’s reportage provided to Publishing Perspectives.
  • General literature is followed by comics, which come in at €466.8 million in turnover (US$499.6 million), despite a drop of 4.3 percent in value. That setback for comics is attributed to “lower vitality” in the market vitality of manga.
  • Children’s books remain in third place after general literature and comics, with an increase of 1.9 percent in value and a turnover of €385.4 million (US$412.5 million).

The publishers also make a special point of referencing to an increase of 3.4 percent in international translation and co-publishing rights over the 2022-2023 cycle.

Montagne: A Wary Eye on Artificial Intelligence

In his commentary to the assembly, the re-elected president, Montagne, spoke of challenges ahead for publishing and the book industry as a whole.

Vincent Montagne

He named first artificial intelligence and the challenge to copyright of large language models which train on protected text without licenses or paying for that intellectual property.

The SNE’s plans also include demanding regulation in the face of “the rapid and continued development of the second-hand book market.”

Montagne said that he expects to see tools developed to better manage the environmental transition of the sector and pledged to work on the launch of the Filéas project, described as an information feed for bookstores, publishers, and authors.

He said the publishers must continue to promote books and reading through initiatives developed for each sector in the book industry. It also plans to place the next Paris Book Festival at the new Grand Palais in April 2025 through its subsidiary, Paris Livres Événements.

And the SNE has announced a merger with the LivrEmploi association, a publishing-employee recruitment platform which was opened in April to make entry level positions attractive and easier to find for those interested.

SNE Officers Elected

In addition to returning Montagne of Média-Participations to the presidency, the French publishers have elected officers comprising:

  • Louis Delas, École des loisirs (vice-president)
  • Marion Glénat-Corveler, Éditions Glénat (vice-president)
  • Laure Leroy, Éditions Zulma (treasurer)

The directors elected, then, are:

  • Cécile Boyer-Runge, Média-Participations
  • Alban Cerisier, Madrigall
  • Stéphanie Ferran, Hachette Livre
  • Antoine Gallimard, Madrigall
  • Gilles Haéri, Albin Michel
  • Nathalie Jouven, Hachette Livre
  • Liana Levi, Éditions Liana Levi
  • Catherine Lucet, Editis
  • Véra Michalski-Hoffmann, Libella
  • Françoise Nyssen, Actes Sud
  • Denis Olivennes, Editis

More from Publishing Perspectives on the French market is here, and more on industry statistics 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.