The 2021 bestselling books in Germany.

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The bestseller top ten, plus some interesting data.

Not all book publishing data speak by themselves: the German Media Control agency has released some 2021 numbers that might impress but would need a little more background (and country comparisons) to make them meaningful. This post starts from the big numbers, goes into the top ten of most sold books, and adds some additional stats to make sense of those figures.

273
million

BOOKS SOLD
IN GERMANY 2021

1.028.469
titles

ISSUED IN 2021
AND SOLD

700.000
copies

TOP SELLER
PERFORMANCE

The top ten 2021.

Most sold books in germany – ALL GENRE
AuthorTitlePublisher
1Delia OwensDer Gesand der FlusskrebseHeyne
2Juli ZehÜber MenschenLuchterand
3Hape KerkelingPfoten vom Tisch!Piper
4Sebastian FitzekPlaylistDroemer
5David SafierMiss MerkelRowohlr
6Lucinda RileyDie verschwundene SchwesterGoldmann
7Sebastian FitzekDer erste letzte TagDroemer
8Karsten DusseAchtsam mordenHeyne
9Rita FalkRejragout-RendezvousDTV
10Jean-Iyes Ferri,
Didier Conrad
Asterix 39Egmont Comic

Source: Media Control

A mixed podium.

TOP 1 It has sold millions of copies in the US, and millions around the world. The story told by Delia Owens, a zoologist and writer, is a “Huckeberry Finn” story in which nature plays a central role along with the protagonist, a mother nature, not a stepmother. The success of the novel is not surprising, but the size is.

Delia Owens, Where The Crawdads Sing (2018): Never Doubt The Power of A  Simple Story & Exquisite Prose – The Average Viewer

TOP 2 The German author Juli Zeh took the second place with “Über Menschen”. The social novel about a city dweller that decides to use the pandemic and the lockdown to retreat to a Brandenburg village was the top-seller book in the first six months of 2021. For Juli Zeh, this was the second immense success after “Unterleuten” from 2016.

Über Menschen" von Juli Zeh: Wankende Weltbilder | NDR.de - Kultur - Buch

TOP 3 A popular comedian and entertainer, Hape Kerkeling is also a passionate cat lover. With “Pfoten fom Tisch!” (transl. “Paws off the Table!”), Hape Kerkeling has written a personal book about cats. He reveals nothing less than cats are his secret religion. “The cat – says Kerkeling – also has a mysterious and almost mystical nature. With every cat I’ve had, I’ve had the feeling that the cat always knows something about me that I don’t know myself.” Hape Kerkeling’s book is a multifaceted book: a serious but also tongue-in-cheek guidebook, a loving look at his home cats, the review of one’s own life, seen through his “cat moments”: starting from the stories – some touching, some other funny – of his childhood. 

Pfoten vom Tisch!: Meine Katzen, andere Katzen und ich: 6 CDs : Kerkeling,  Hape, Kerkeling, Hape: Amazon.de: Bücher

The abovementioned are “naked numbers”. What can we say about 2021 in terms of behaviours and preferences, and is there some change provoked by the pandemic.

43% of Germans read more books in Corona times.

Skoobe, an e-book Munich-based subscription provider, ran a survey between 5 and 17 May 2021 (right at the end of the second German Lockdown) among a total of 2,868 users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 

The results were encouraging for the book industry: 

  • 50% said they read books almost as much and as often, 
  • 43% even said they read more books than before the pandemic began. 
Nevertheless, there are changes in the “how”, “what” and “when”. 

First of all, many users (38%) admitted an attention deficit: they could not switch off as easily when reading as before. Part of the issue had to do with social media: 19% of interviewed said they spent more time on social media than before.  More stability about preferred genre: 81% of respondents answered that they would stay true to their favourite genres.

By the numbers: How often do people in Germany read?

Leseratte” (reading rat, equivalent of Bookworm) is the German word for people who read a lot. After two years of the pandemic, the big numbers did not change much as total readers and their frequency.

In 2020, there were still over 21 million people in Germany reading books every day or more times a week. Around 30 million, however, read books less than once a month or even never.

We will be probably able to measure the overall impact of the pandemic not before the second half of 2022. But it is a matter of fact, not only in Germany: the book industry manage to stay relevant and perform better, for instance, of the declining magazine publishing.

Digital or printed?

However, the Corona pandemic led to a rapid increase in 2020: In the weeks when the bookshops were closed, sales of e-books rose by 43.5 per cent. Consider, however, that the 18 million audiobooks readers in Germany also count as print book readers


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