Book Market in Russia 2010: Statistics, Trends and Demographics

February 15, 2011

Every 6 months the Book Industry Magazine prepares a report entitled “Book Market of the Russian Federation”, which contains timely information on the book industry’s performance in the previous period. 

In 2010 the industry was greatly affected by the general economic climate and some 85% of Russian publishers exceeded the rate of inflation in the non-food products group, which accounts for some 5% according to the Federal State Statistics Service. By the end of 2010 the average increase in book price was between 5 and 15% and with higher rates not being uncommon. 

The average bookstore trade margin fluctuates between 50 and 150%, which is at least twice as much as the margin of the Russian Federation general retail trade (27% - based on the Federal State Statistics Service).

Book market revenue and unit sales (%) for 2008 - 2010 

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Source: «Book Industry” database, experts’ estimate

In 2010 the book market did not show any significant shifts in book categories. As predicted, school textbooks retained the ultimate lead showing positive sales dynamics. Following the ‘Uniform State Examination’ (USE) and the ‘State Final Attestation’ (SFA), textbooks for schools continue to remain in demand throughout the year.

Major book categories (%, unit sales) for 2010

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Source: «Book Industry» database

According to State statistics, the publishing business in 2010 showed an overall decline, highlighted by the number of titles and average print run, the latter of which exhibiting a double drop compared to 2009.

Unit sales data is a clear marker of the increased threat of monopolization in the overall book business. Currently, and with a total market share of 45.2%, the top publishers in the ratings are «AST», «Eksmo», «Prosveschenie», «Drofa», and «Exam».

Market share of major book publishing companies (unit sales) for 2010

Region: Russian Federartion 
Chanal: Retail stores 
Period: January - December 2010 г. 

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Source: «Book Industry» database  

It can also be observed that in 2010 increased tension within the book supply chain eventually resulted in structural shifts in overall retail stock policy.

Retail distribution channels, 2010

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Source: «Book Industry» database

Results of a poll conducted in December 2010 shows that 70% of book stores deemed it necessary to allocate about 25 - 30% of floor space to non-book items to maintain store profitability.

As a means of entertainment, books have become increasingly neglected by occasional readers (on average 1- 8 books a year, not counting textbooks) over the past couple of years. We have seen a shift towards more intellectual reading primarily by Muscovites, although readers in the regions retain their rather lighter reading habits.

Rating of retail distribution chains (%) for 2008-2010 (Outlets where respondents bought books, % answers) 

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Source: TNS-Russia, «Marketing Index - Russia 2010/ Q1 and Q2»

According to research by TNS, e-books are gaining in popularity; the number of customers interested in reading e-books has increased from 7.3% in 2008 to 9.7% in 2010. Whilst book stores and kiosks are less likely to become the place to buy a book, internet retail has gained in popularity. Nevertheless, the share of those buying books online in the first half of 2010 was a mere 1.4% of the population.