Adverse Effect of Sanctions
Despite Western sanctions and the rise in paper prices, in April 2022, Russians began to order paper books more often. Such results were reported to socialbites.ca in Wildberries. In April, the online store recorded a 78% increase in sales of print publications compared to the same period last year. Wildberries spokesperson Alexei Tretyak said that works in foreign languages, comics and second-hand books are in even greater demand among citizens.
“We see that more and more Russians are ordering books online: in April, sales of books were 78% year-on-year, books in foreign languages - 144%, comics – 94%, sales of second-hand books – 132%. The most popular among Russians were books on psychology and self-development,” he said.
Writer Sergei Lukyanenko attributed the reverse effect of Western sanctions to a decline in Russia’s demand for other forms of entertainment – watching movies in classic and online cinemas. The books are also a great way to escape the stress of falling real incomes and general uncertainty, he says.
“In recent months, the number of other entertainment and entertainment options has decreased significantly – first of all, cinema, whose mass distribution in Russia is now really dead. In addition, some online cinemas such as Netflix have recently stopped working in our country.
And of course, since the end of February, the Russians wanted to escape reality, just to escape the uncertainty and stress in the environment. In this regard, the book is the best salvation from the reality of crisis,” he said.
What do booksellers think?
Large book retail chains also reported to socialbites.ca about the growing interest of citizens in paper books. The Biblio-Globus trading house noted that over the past two months, the largest demand has been for fiction (29% of all sales), children’s and foreign literature (13% each), history books (7%) and psychology (6%). .
“As strange as it may seem, on the contrary, the demand for books has not decreased. Apparently, the readership has a fear of being deprived of their favorite books, so they buy for future use on a short-term basis. “It is worth noting that these fears can be considered unfounded, since none of the leading publishing houses have reduced their turnover,” said Larisa Vedenyeva, assistant to the Biblio-Globus goods and services management group.
Lukyanenko also saw this as one of the growth factors in demand. “Another reason for the increase in interest is the desire of citizens to stockpile paper prints for the future. This can apply, first of all, to works of classical literature, for example, the works of Pushkin or Tolstoy, which can be stored on store shelves for many years.
In the trading house of the book “Moscow”, among the possible reasons for the increase in Russian demand for paper books, the threat of shortages and a further rise in prices were noted. This was told socialbites.ca by Deputy Director General Ekaterina Mosina.
Natalia Sokolova, head of the advertising department of the Moscow Book House, announced, on the contrary, that in March-April, attendance at the chain’s stores decreased. According to him, currently books are not essential goods for Russians.
“In an unstable situation, when prices for food, medicine, goods for children rise, people naturally start saving. And, unfortunately, books end up on the list of goods that buyers are prepared to refuse for a certain period of time. Thus, we recorded a decrease of approximately 17% in the attendance of our stores in March-April,” Sokolova emphasized.
As before, fiction for an adult readership is in high demand among buyers – its share is 25% of all book sales. Buyers are interested in a variety of genres, from classical literature to modern prose, he added.
“Separately, books in the original language can be distinguished – due to the incomprehensible situation in this literature, in 2022 the demand for original publications increased by 60% by 2021.” Said.
In the non-fiction genre, the buyers are psychology (issues of getting rid of anxiety and stress, relationships with loved ones, happiness, harmony with oneself), parenting, a healthy lifestyle and hobbies, esotericism and self-knowledge, Russian history.
Lukyanenko believes that the increased interest in history and fiction is most pronounced among young people and students.
“In recent years, young people have become very familiar with the literature we read during childhood and adolescence. Hence the increased interest in such writers as George Orwell, Evgeny Zamyatin, Erich Remarque. Orwell’s fictions are now to some extent related to the reality in which we live. With the help of these works, young Russians are trying to understand what power is, what is interstate relations, where are the limits of freedom, ”explained the science fiction writer.
How prices have changed
Since the beginning of 2022, the average book prices have increased due to the increasing sales prices of dealers and publishers. Vedenyeva of Biblio-Globus also said the cost of coated paper, printing inks and other consumables have increased in recent months.
“The most notable increase in prices can be seen in the expensive goods segment: art albums and illustrated gift prints. It is quite difficult to determine the average retail price of books, as they vary greatly in different thematic groups. This figure ranges from 300 to 500 rubles,” he said.
Oleg Novikov, head of the Eksmo-AST publishing group, in an interview with socialbites.ca, noted a 20% increase in the average cost of books since the beginning of 2022. Among the reasons for this trend were a sharp increase in production costs, including an increase in printing costs and a shortage of paper due to the refusal of European coated paper manufacturers to work with the Russian market.
“In Eksmo publishing house, the average price of a softcover book is 325 rubles, and a hard cover is 561 rubles. It is rather difficult to talk about the average retail price of novels, the cost of books of this genre ranges from 120 to 1.5 thousand rubles, if we are talking about expensive paper, a high level of design and a translated novel, ”said the author. .
Prices for paper books in TDK “Moscow” did not increase. However, Mosina said that in March 2022, many deliveries from publishers come at a cost 10-20% higher than previous receipts.
“The average price of a book in different segments in our store is of course different. In fiction, this figure is 670 rubles; in the non-fiction segment – 950 rubles; albums of art cost an average of 2.4 thousand rubles, and works of children’s literature – 750 rubles, ”Mosina emphasized.
In contrast, Sokolova of the Moscow Book House recorded a 14% increase in the average cost of a book in March-April 2022. At the same time, the Trade House did not rule out the possibility of a further increase in prices by 20-25%, as there is a stock of good books whose retail prices did not increase until recently.
“The average retail price of a book in the Moscow Bookstore chain of bookstores is currently 620 rubles. For comparison, the average price of a book last year was 540 rubles, and three years ago it was 430 rubles, ”Sokolova concluded.