The 2019 Salon du Livre will open on 15 March and continue over the weekend. To commemorate this important literary event, France Culture did a timely podcast that included some statistics about the “barometer” of reading and the sales of books in France, according to the National Book Center (Centre National du Livre). Overall, it seems that readership in France is holding steady, ahead of countries like Spain and Italy. 88% of French people consider themselves readers, with 92% having read at least one book within a 12-month period. There is a particular increase in readership by young adults (ages 15-24 years old) as they devour mangas, comics, and science fiction novels at home or on public transportation.
Books sales saw a small dip, but otherwise stable. The three categories of books that are the most popular with readers include self-help books, novels, and graphic novels (including mangas and comic books). It is also predicted that for this year there would be an increase in readership, probably not surprising, for books contesting the current political and economic systems.
The book market continues to be stable, although it is declining, particularly for literature. Aside from the best-sellers, there was a 10% decrease of sales for “middle” literature (those published between 20,000-30,000 copies). Even literary prizes, with the exception of prestigious ones like the Goncourt, have also lost some of their leverage and influence. Other genres of literature continue to flourish. However, it seems that readership trends in France reflect a worried society, with people looking for simplified answers in self-help books rather than the escapism that can oftentimes come from reading literature.
When interviewed by the French Press Association, Vincent Monadé, president of the National Book Center, expressed that the time spent on a daily basis for reading is declining for a variety of reasons, including the competition of other leisure activities, social media, video games, television series (often viewed not on a television), etc.
For a comprehensive study on “French and Reading” for 2019 conducted by the National Book Center, check here.