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The Global eBook Market: Current Conditions & Future Projections by Ruediger Wischenbart

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Chapter 5. Market Close-Ups

Germany (Updated January 21, 2013)

For three years in a row, the overall German book market has shrunk. Reports state the loss at 1.4 percent in 2012, after a drop of 2.6 percent in 2011 and 3.3 percent in 2010. Year-end sales fell some 5 percent below the level of 2012. Hardest hit were the traditional book chains, with a loss of 3.7 percent (buchreport, January 10, 2013, and “Branchenmonitor Buch 2012,” in Boersenblatt January 17, 2013).

The best-performing segment in 2012 was fiction, driven by a few blockbuster bestsellers, notably Susanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy in the first half of the year, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey in the second half, and Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred Year Old Man (translated from Swedish), throughout the entire twelve months (buchreport on the annual bestsellers for 2012, December 31, 2012). The massive impact of just a few megatitles points to the growing fragility of a market that, in Germany, has traditionally relied on a broad and diverse mix of successfull midlist titles for its stability. The old balance seems to be giving way to a new unpredictability in the market (for more details, see ).

As a result, a debate has opened regarding how to best stabilize the German book market as it stands today and prepare it for major shifts driven by a variety of forces, including changes in consumer habits and new entrants to the market. Nevertheless, Germany can still be seen as a haven of relative stability and calm when ...

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