There’s an article in the Business section of today’s New York Times on the increase in book sales in Europe: “Book Sales in Europe Are Gaining in Tough Times.”
The number of books sold in France, for instance…
…rose 2 percent in December from a year earlier and 2.4 percent in January, according to Livres Hebdo, a trade publication.
The trend has been similar in Germany, where the number of books sold rose 2.3 percent in January, according to the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, a trade organization. Analysts say many other European markets have also shown gains.
In the United States and Britain, book sales have been slightly less robust, falling by a fraction of 1 percent in both countries last year, according to Nielsen BookScan. Sales in the United States were down about 1 percent in the first 10 weeks of this year.
How have book sales fared in Poland? Pretty much the same, evidently, as in its Western neighbors. The publishing magazine Książki reported in their issue of 18 December 2008 that 2007 book sales in Poland reached 2.57 billion zloties (about $750 million at today’s exchange rate), representing growth of 9% over 2006. The following year was less spectacular, but consistent with numbers in France and Germany; the report anticipated an increase in book sales in December 2008 of 2.5—3% over the previous December, wrapping up total sales for 2008 at 2.64 billion zloties (or $771 million currently).
2008 was not, according to the Książki report,
a year of bestsellers, but fortunately this was compensated for by strong sales of evergreens (a surprising number of titles from 2007 remained at the top of the charts in [bookstore chains] Empik and Matras, such as books by Małgorzata Kalicińska [author of the successful Mazurian Trilogy] and Wojciech Cejrowski [author of travelogues with such promising titles as Gringo Amongst the Wild Tribes]).
Other bestsellers for 2007/08 that the Książki article mentions include (in no particular order): J.K. Rowling’s (and Bloomsbury’s) global superhit Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Jan T. Gross’s Fear (published in U.S. by Random House, there by Znak); Katarzyna Grochola’s 7th novel Trzepot skrzydeł (A Flapping of Wings) published by Wydawnictwo Literackie; Jerzy Pilch’s Marsz Polonia (March, Polonia) published by Bertelsmann’s Świat Książki; SB a Lech Wałęsa (Lech Wałęsa and the Security Service) by Sławomir Cenckiewicz i Piotr Gontarczyk, published by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN); and Jeremy Clarkson’s Born to Be Riled (Insignis).
Of all the authors Książki mentions (and I’ve only included a sample here), only Jerzy Pilch straddles both literary and popular camps. Unsurprisingly, as the report concludes, all of the bestsellers came with robust marketing support. With the zloty in a bit of pain (it’s currently at $1 = 3.43 zl; last October it was $1 = 2 zl), I suppose folks in Poland, too, are wondering how the book market will fare in 2009…