Book readers prefer literature and social issues

Greek book production has been steadily increasing in the last 10 years. Unfortunately, newspapers and magazines take ample interest in books but only a minimal one in the book industry as a whole. Sales of new titles, published in the 1998-2000 period, have been doing quite well, data provided by the firm Biblionet shows. According to the company’s bibliographical data base, 6,383 and 6,998 titles had been registered by November 7, 2001 for the years 1998 and 1999 respectively. There was a slight fall to 6,804 titles in 2000, due to a drop in all categories except literature, general interest and philosophy. Children’s books thrive The higher figure for literature is mainly due to a rise in children’s book production, compensating for a small decline in other kinds of literature, and which tops all categories with about 40 percent of sales. Children’s books accounted for 39 percent of all literature sales in 2000, after consecutive rises in the previous two years. Prose was second with 30 percent. In the large domain of non-literary books, social science books figure at the top the sales list in the three years with an average of 16.5 percent, while representing the second largest category in all book production in terms of the number of titles with 16.6 percent. A large part of the titles in the social science category, 28 percent, deal with education issues. Books on law follow with 21 percent and on economics with 11.7 percent. The production of new titles in these three thematic sub-categories rose continuously in the 1998-2000 period. History and geography account for 7.6 percent of all titles. The other categories of non-literary books – general interest, philosophy, religion, language, natural sciences, technology and the arts – share the rest of production with shares varying between 4 and 6.5 percent. Of all titles published in this period, 53 percent were written by Greeks and the rest were translations, mostly in the categories of philosophy, general interest themes, literature (mostly children’s books) and the arts. Nearly two thirds (64.9 percent) of all fiction titles published were translations, mainly from English, while the respective rates for plays and poetry were 47.5 and 9 percent. According to Biblionet, the overall data shows an increasing interest in Greek authors. The 10 biggest publishers accounted for 35 percent of all book production in three years, and the five biggest for 24 percent. These rates indicate that concentration trends in the industry are still weak and are the result of increasing market shares of the most productive publishing houses rather than through mergers and acquisitions. Nevertheless, this is not a uniform trend, as the production of individual houses can fluctuate from year to year. Patakis was the biggest publisher with 7 percent, followed by Ellinika Grammata, Modern Times and Kastaniotis with shares of 5 percent each. Ion has 3 percent and Sakkoulas, Minoas, Livanis, Kedros and Dardanos 2 percent each.