The German book market in December 2021.


2021 began with one of the hardest lockdowns in Europe. December 2021 has been dominated still by the pandemic, but the book market is in much better conditions. Especially the retail book trade recorded significant sales increases.


DEC 2021
DEC 2020


12 months
2021 VS 2020


vs dec 2020

On overview on the German book market by distribution channel.

The report by the Branchen-Monitor BUCH segments book sales into five channels:

  1. Retail book trade (local bookshops),
  2. E-commerce,
  3. Railway station book trade,
  4. Department stores,
  5. Electrical goods and drugstores.

This post does not delve into the channel by channel performance. You can visit this page and this page for a more comprehensive view of data.

December sales across the monitored channels scored a +5.5% on the YoY comparison. The comparison against December 2019 delivers a positive result, too: despite fewer copies sold, the overall turnover was 0.8% higher than in December 2019.

Change in 2021 compared to the same period of the previous year (cumulative)
Sales volume+1,6%
Legend: From January to December 2021, sales in the five distribution channels were 0.9 percent higher than from January to December 2020.

Source: DEC 2021 Branchen Monitor BuchBörsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels

Product groups.

In terms of product groups, the picture in December is once again mixed: as in November 2021, travel books and children books had the biggest sales increase.

Among the most sold titles, thrillers have been the best-sellers: 

  • “Playlist” by Sebastian Fitzek (Droemer HC)
  •  “In ewiger Freundschaft” by Nele Neuhaus (Ullstein) 
  • “Natrium Chlorid” by Jussi Adler-Olsen (dtv)

Legend: From January to December 2021, fiction sales in the five distribution channels were 4.9 per cent higher than from January to December 2020.

Source: NOV 2021 Branchen Monitor BuchBörsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels

Non-fiction books did not outperform but could record a plus, mainly thanks to one title: “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Penguin).

Barack Obamas Buch: Die Hoffnung bleibt | ZEIT ONLINE

The bottom line.

2021 has been better than 2020 and even better than 2019. Challenge won: the book trade in Germany is alive!

The BUCH Industry Monitor.

The book market in Germany comprises different distribution channels (market shares refer to the year 2020). The Media Control retail panel so far covers the distribution channels coloured red: retail bookstores, department stores, e-commerce and partly the other distribution channels (station bookstores, electronic and drugstores are part of the Media Control retail panel).


The BUCH industry monitor uses data collected by Media Control Baden-Baden. The statistical basis of the panel includes 5.716 sales outlets in the distribution channels of retail bookshops (2.355 sales outlets), railway station bookshops (479), department stores (197), electrical goods and drugstores (2.675) and e-commerce (10, incl. Amazon). All sales (except for School and Learning) of the retailers taking part in the sample, which are recorded via the cash register systems and are identifiable, form the basis. The survey period is the first to the last day of each month.

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