Printed books resilient in the face of uncertainty

7 October 2021

The story for books in Europe since the onset of COVID-19 has neither been straightforward nor predictable, with the market experiencing episodic turbulence and instability due to lockdowns and changing consumer behaviour. However, the future looks bright for books – which are still loved best in print.

The book market in Western Europe is projected to grow from €5.7 billion in 2020 to €6.5 billion in 2025 (2.6% CAGR), according to market research institute Smithers. Even in the wake of COVID-19, more and more positive news about books is being communicated from different countries, with opportunities arising for certain segments like education and activity titles, children’s books, and young adult fiction. In recent years, many publishers have seen a higher proportion of their revenue come from e-books, but print remains unequivocally the favoured medium for reading.

Not only is this good news for our industry, but it is also positive for the future of literacy and education. In May 2021, PISA, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, published the report ‘21st Century Readers: Developing Literacy Skills in a Digital World’, which found that students who read printed books more frequently perform better in reading, spend more time reading, and enjoy reading more than students who read more from digital devices. Reading digital texts more frequently even showed a negative association with reading performance. These findings support previous studies (for example, the COST Action E-READ initiative) which proved that reading in print (rather than from a screen) is better for comprehension, retention, concentration, deep reading, and critical thinking – even for digital natives.

We want to continue the discussion about Europe’s exciting and important book market. What better place to do it than at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October! Join Intergraf and our European network at the event Shaping the Future with Books (Chapter 2) in Frankfurt on 21 October 2021 for the latest insights. Participants will hear the perspectives of printers, publishers, and other experts, as well as receiving an exclusive market report from Smithers. You can register for this event now on the Intergraf website: See you there!


Article first published in Deutscher Drucker trade press magazine