Annual sales event opens new chapter for hopeful publishing industry
Wednesday marks the start of Sweden's bokrea, an annual nationwide sales event that see bookstores and publishers lower prices and clear out inventory, and it comes on the heels of a good year for the book industry.
At the Adlibris Marknad bookstore in downtown Stockholm, the sales signs are out in force. And plenty of shoppers are browsing the latest titles in everything from crime fiction to cookbooks.
It opened just four months ago, the first physical store for Adlibris which is a well-known online book seller in the Nordics.
Hans Håkansson is the store's manager and describes bokrea as "a celebration of the book; like a big party".
Books can be anywhere from 25 to 75 percent cheaper. And Håkansson says the sales period, which can last for a week or two, gives a boost to business following the slump from the holidays.
"It's almost like an injection," he tells Radio Sweden. "Everybody is happy. The customers can buy cheap books and the publishing houses can sell off their stock."
Håkansson says before the store opened at 7 am on Wednesday, there was a line of some 30 people waiting outside.
And as the bokrea kicks off, last year also gathered steam for the Swedish publishing industry. After 7 years of shrinking sales, 2015 saw an uptick of about 3 percent for both the total number of books sold and the total revenue collected.
Erik Wikberg is an analyst at the Swedish Publishers Association and the Swedish Booksellers Association and says it's unclear why sales are up but adds that some categories are performing much better than others.
Children's books and young adult literature are up while crime novels and biographies are down.
Wikberg says consumers still buy more books online than in physical stores. But, he adds, if book sellers can get customers in when they're young, they'll likely come back.
"People who buy books have typically bought a lot of books previously," he says. "So it's sort of an acquired taste to read books."