Halfway through 2020, the Federation of European Publishers took stock of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the book sector in Europe. Back then, many countries had just experienced lockdowns, resulting in the unprecedented situation of having bookstores closed almost everywhere for weeks, and the consequences for book sales had been dreadful. While the coming of the summer had shown timid signs of recovery, the overall outlook was still gloomy, and most of all the year’s prospects were marked by extreme uncertainty. The present document updates the information from the previous survey with a first approximation of the impact of the pandemic on the book sector in 2020. Uncertainty remains the keyword also for the beginning of 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 crisis; nonetheless, the book sector has revealed a greater resilience than the situation half a year ago may have led to expect.

As per the foreword by FEP President, Peter Kraus vom Cleff: “a very heterogeneous, but all in all confident overall picture emerges. Publishers as well as booksellers have displayed an amazing entrepreneurial willingness to adapt to the circumstances, finding new and innovative solutions whenever required. During lockdowns, many people re-discovered books“. He continues: “A key lesson we can draw from our study is that political support for our uniquely diverse and varied cultural sector is crucial. The evidence shows that countries which classified books and book shops as essential and specifically promoted and supported the cultural sector suffered significantly fewer losses in this core sector, which is so important for Europe culturally and economically, than those in which there was a complete shutdown of the brick-and-mortar book shops and a lack of state support.

The report is based on a consolidation of national trends which have been shared with FEP by its 29 members (national associations of publishers of books, learned journals, and educational content, in all formats).

The report is published by FEP with the support and for distribution in the framework of the ALDUS UP project, funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union

The report can be downloaded on the FEP website