NEWS

Book sales continue slow climb

More and more books are being published in Greece, by an increasing number of publishers, according to figures released for 2004 by the National Book Center that showed a 6.8 percent increase over the previous year, bringing the total number of new titles to 7,888 (8,478 including older titles reissued). The first five years of the 21st century have seen a particular demand for self-help, vocational and scientific books. The greatest increase has been in the children’s book sector, particular for preschoolers, where the number of new titles rose by 27.6 percent. Titles for older children and teenagers rose by 18.2 percent. Around two-thirds of these are translated from other languages, despite an increase in the number of Greek authors. Greek literature, however, has seen a declining demand (down by 1 percent between 2003 and 2004 and 10.2 percent lower than in 2001, when it reached its peak). It is now being seen more and more in special offers from publishers and newspapers. So although books are often identified with literature, the figures speak differently. Foreign literature publications increased only slightly. Editions of ancient texts increased by 8.4 percent, indicating that publishers are not putting as much faith in new writers, and readers prefer to stick with writers they are familiar with. Books on hobbies, including travel guides, cookery books, mysticism, alternative therapies, dictionaries, popular psychology, beauty and gardening, increased their sales by 13.4 percent in 2004. People who have never read a work of fiction in their lives are turning more and more to self-help and hobby guides. Record sales of the Greek edition of «The Da Vinci Code» reflected a growing interest in mysticism and religion that has seen titles in this sector increase by 10 percent in 2004, and 52.8 percent between 1999 and 2004. Scientific texts comprise the largest category, with history and law heading the field (18.1 and 15.2 percent respectively), followed by social sciences, religion, political science, education, biographies, philosophy, economics and psychology. Hobbies and careers, then, are the focus of most readers, as well as self-improvement and the search for answers to the problems of the modern world. Sales of art books have increased 25.2 percent, meanwhile, and are mainly bought as gifts or as collector’s items, while books containing photographs of particular parts of Greece are popular too. Newspaper offers seen as threat Book offers in newspapers are a marketing ploy that began in Italy and spread to Spain, France and then Germany. Booksellers reacted, particularly in France, where they went to court and won, forcing newspapers to restrict their offers to encyclopedias. In Germany, the problem was solved by getting publishers involved and having the books on offer available in bookshops as well. The problem was debated at the 3rd International Book Fair in Thessaloniki recently by Serafeim Fydanidis of Eleftherotypia, Odysseas Hadzopoulos of Cactus Publications, Nikos Karantzas (of Ianos Books) and the French journalist Florence Noiville. Booksellers and publishers all agreed that book offers in newspapers hinder people from visiting bookstores. They reject the newspaper owners’ argument that their offers get people to read who would never otherwise have done so. So far there is no data to back either claim.