Russian Book Market: First Half of 2012 and the Forecast

September 7, 2012

Russian Consumer Book Market

In 2012 the consumer book market in Russia continues to fall. It is estimated that by the end of the year its value in Roubles will have decreased by 4.88% (around 11% in US dollars provided the exchange rate remains the same) and there will be just under a 10% drop in the number of copies.

Total Russian Book Market Value and Volume, %


Source: Book Industry Magazine

This noticeable market shrinkage can to a large extent be attributed to a significant transformation of the retail channels. The wholesaler "Pyaty Okean" filed for bankruptcy in April 19, 2012 following the crash in 2011 of Top – Kniga, the largest book wholesaler and retailer in Russia.

"Pyaty Okean" was a distribution centre for AST (one of Russia’s two largest publishers, the other being Eksmo), with debts reported to exceed 7.5 billion roubles. The provisional bankruptcy of AST threatened the collapse of the book market. In June 2012 Eksmo gained managerial control over several subdivisions of AST including its important publishing brands Astel, Corpus, Editorial Department of Elena Shubina and a number of others. The "Bukva" bookstore chain was exempt from the deal. Although "Bukva" acquired about 50 stores following the crash of Top-Kniga in 2011 it is planning to close about one third of its over 400 stores in 2012 according to its Managing Director Mr Gankin. 

Market share of the main Publishers


Source: Book Industry Magazine

Book Distribution 

Russia has two country-wide book chains: “Novyi Kniznyi-Bukvoed” with 189 stores and “Bukva” with 369 stores as of August 2012. About 3000 independent book stores operate throughout the country, this figure includes regional chains.

It is estimated that by the end of the year Russian book chains can loose about 4.5% of the market (compared to 2011), independent bookstores about 2% and libraries 2%.

Main distribution channels


Source: Book Industry magazine

Publishers’ priorities have been changing with respect to distribution. In predictive values ​​for the end of 2012 and 2013 publishers will significantly shift towards non-traditional marketplaces such as newsstands, supermarkets, dedicated children stores and Internet stores.

Publishers to choose distribution channel, %


Source: Book Industry Magazine

Customers’ behaviour

In the first half of 2012:

  • 3-28% booksellers acknowledge an increase in turnover 
  • 82% of booksellers noted an increase in average purchase (in Roubles).
  • 42.3% of booksellers reported an increase in average purchase by 5-10%
  • 18% of booksellers have confirmed the growth of average purchase by 15-25%
Visitors vs Buyers


Source: Book Industry Magazine

Book Prices

For the first six months of 2012 consumer price index in the book retail was about 1% only with the average book price across all categories being 176.16 Roubles. This can be regarded as a positive trend compared to last year's actual deflation of 5.8–19% against the 2010 figures which were caused by heavy sales and stock discounts. 

The average book price in Moscow increased by 10.66% year-to-year. In other regions of Russia book prices on illustrated books, children's and educational books increased by 4-5%.

Prices (December 2011 - July 2012)

Price Shifts.JPG

Source: Book Industry Magazine

Book Sales (December 2011 - July 2012)

Adult fiction

Drop of 2.4% in Moscow and in the regions a drop of 5.1%

Children and YA

An increase of 5.1% In Moscow and in the regions a drop of 4.6%

Business and Professional

Drop of 12.8% in Moscow and in the regions an increase of 9.8%


Drop of 1.6% in Moscow and in the regions an increase of 1.1%

Education and STM

Increase of 3.7% in Moscow and in the regions an increase of 2.4%

Book Sales, Main Categories, number of copies


Source: Book Industry Magazine

E-book market

By the end of 2012, legal e-book distribution in Russia through the B2B and the B2C channels will be 0.6% of the total Russian book market with a year-to-year increase of 80 – 100%. 


Source: Book Industry Magazine