Book sales in Portugal witnessed a five percent increase in 2023 compared to the previous year, driven primarily by younger demographics and the influence of social networks.

The data, released by the Associação Portuguesa de Editores e Livreiros, based on a study conducted by Gfk, indicates a consistent growth trend in the book market for the third consecutive year.

Despite a slight decrease in growth from 15 percent in 2022 and 16 percent in 2021, the five percent rise is still considered a positive sign for the industry, showcasing its resilience during economic challenges. Pedro Sobral, the president of APEL, emphasized that this growth reflects a shift towards personal consumption rather than books being purchased primarily as gifts, a trend that gained momentum after the pandemic.

Sobral attributed the decrease in growth from 15 percent to five percent to macroeconomic variables, citing the impact of interest rates and inflation on family disposable income in 2023. Nevertheless, he sees this modest growth as a sign of the industry's resilience in challenging economic conditions.

In 2023, a total of 13.1 million books were sold in Portugal, generating €187.2 million in income, marking a seven percent increase from 2022. The finer analysis provided by Gfk, focusing on Portuguese editions and sales by retailers with physical stores, revealed that the growth was driven by key categories, including a nine percent increase in fiction and children's fiction.

The non-fiction category, particularly tourism books, experienced an eight percent growth, while practical life genres such as leisure and current affairs saw a four percent increase. The rising popularity of comics/manga among younger age groups contributed to a growth from two percent in 2019 to five percent in 2023.

Highlighting the 15 percent growth in children's books purchases, APEL emphasized a notable trend of increased interest among parents, caregivers, and educators in integrating books into the growth and education of children. APEL sees this as an opportune moment to address industry weaknesses, suggesting measures such as book vouchers and reforms to the Lei do Preço Fixo to support bookstores and enhance accessibility to books across the country. Photo by Sharon Hahn Darlin, Wikimedia commons.