Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Sales in Europe Are Gaining in Tough Times

Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press
An old medium is proving popular beyond bastions like the Leipzig Book Fair in Germany (left).
By ERIC PFANNER writing in The New York Times
March 15, 2009

PARIS — Some people are seeking explanations for the global economic crisis. Others want to escape into the fanciful world of vampires. Still others are just looking for a nice plate of comfort food.

Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press
The Paris Book Fair last week (left). In France and Germany, sales are up, and in the United States, they are down only slightly.

Whether they are picking up “La Crise, et Après?” by the French economist Jacques Attali, one of the countless translations of the American author Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, or “Jamie’s Ministry of Food,” by the British television chef Jamie Oliver, they are buying books. As the recession leaves other media industries in tatters, the oldest mass medium of all is holding up surprisingly well.
It’s a happy message,” said André Breedt, research and development analyst at Nielsen BookScan, which tracks book sales. “People have been reading and they will keep reading, no matter what happens.”

That resilience has been particularly evident in Continental Europe. After a dip in the fall, the number of books sold in France 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.

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