European Book Publishing Statistics 2020

13 May 2022

The Federation of European Publishers (FEP) represents 29 national associations of publishers from the European Union and the European Economic Area Member States. The present survey is based on reports from the national book publishing associations, and on further analysis and refining of data, for the year 2020. As of 2019, the survey is based on a new questionnaire, which in the short term will entail limited comparability with some older data and a greater degree of uncertainty regarding some of the figures, but that in the long term will ensure the information is both clearer and more relevant.

Figures on the overall economic significance of the publishing industry refer to net publishers’ turnover, i.e. the publishers’ total revenues from the sales of books, not the total market for books (margin of booksellers or other retailers). They also do not account for revenues in terms of selling rights for translation, audiovisual adaptation, etc. In some cases, only data on market value was available; in such cases, average discount rates were applied to calculate an approximation of net turnover. Figures were rounded conservatively.

The total annual sales revenue of book publishers of the EU and the EEA in 2020 was approximately € 22.2 billion, according to the survey conducted by FEP. This represents a modest decrease from 2019 (22.4), especially since 2020 was characterised by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The largest markets in terms of publishers’ turnover were Germany, the UK, France, Spain and Italy. Total market value is estimated at 36-38 billion €.

A total of about 595,000 new titles were issued by publishers in 2020, a decrease compared to 2019, mostly due to the reduction of activity caused by the pandemic. The figure was taken from different sources, some of which included new editions or non-commercial titles, and was accordingly rounded conservatively. European publishers held more than 13.1 million different titles in stock (some 2.5 to 3 million in digital format), the countries reporting the largest availability being the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain; this figure, ever-increasing, has been spiked by the surge in digital publishing (in different formats), the digitisation of back catalogues, the growth of print-on-demand services and the surge in self-published titles, as well as other phenomena. The countries reporting the largest new titles output were the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and France.

A total of approximately 130,000 people were employed full time in book publishing in 2020, a figure substantially equal to the previous year. This remains an area where it is difficult to gather reliable data. The entire book value chain (including authors, booksellers, printers, designers, etc.) is estimated to employ more than half a million people.

Looking at longer term trends, up to 2007 there was steady growth both in revenues and titles. In 2008 revenues, adjusting for exchange rates, experienced a flat year. 2009 showed a slight decrease in turnover (accounting for exchange rates) and a slowdown of title growth. The crisis had less of an impact on publishing when compared to most other sectors. In 2010, growth resumed (especially exports), although favoured by exchange rates. From 2011 to 2014, the market slowed down, with the e-book market growing fast and a good performance of exports, which became even stronger from 2015 to 2017. The e-book market (now around 10% of the total) showed signs of stagnation for the last 6 years (but it could be a matter of capturing the right data), whereas audio book sales exploded in 2019, giving new impetus to digital sales. If 2018 marked a trend reversal in the recovery process started in 2015, 2019 confirmed the positive trend. 2020, the year for the pandemic, saw first a very negative impact of the health crisis, but closed with a result only moderately negative, albeit this was the result of many different situations, related to geography, formats, channels and type of operators.

For further information : Enrico Turrin, +32 2 776 84 64 -