European Book Publishing Statistics 2019

18 January 2021

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 2019. As of this year, the survey is based on a new questionnaire, which in the short term will entail limited comparability with some data from previous years and a greater degree of uncertainty regarding some of the information presented, 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 2019 was approximately € 22.4 billion, according to the survey conducted by FEP. This represents a significant increase from 2018 (22), with most markets continuing a recovery trend initiated a few years before and exchange rate effects no longer masking such growth. 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 605,000 new titles were issued by publishers in 2019, a small increase compared to 2018. 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 12.5 million different titles in stock, 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 2019, 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 terms of turnover and of title output. In 2008 title production kept growing whilst turnover, 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. In 2011 and 2012, the market went down, and title production growth was sluggish; the e-book market grew rapidly, and exports were strong. In 2013 and 2014 the market slowed down again, with the most notable trends being the continuous growth of the e-book market and the good performance of exports, which became even stronger from 2015 to 2017. The e-book market (now nearing 10% of the total) showed signs of stagnation for the last 5 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.

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