“Covid-19 Special Edition” of the “Digital Consumer Book Barometer” published

Frankfurt a. M., 12 August 2020 – how is the Covid-19 pandemic affecting user behaviour of readers and listeners of digital books – eBooks, audiobooks, purchase or flat subscription – in Germany, Austria and Switzerland? Using detailed data, Bookwire has now enabled publication of the “Covid-19 Special Edition” of the “Digital Consumer Book Barometer” published by Rüdiger Wischenbart.

2020 will go down in history as a turning point in the book industry and digital publishing. To provide data-based analysis of these developments from the outset, Rüdiger Wischenbart (, consultant) and Bookwire GmbH decided early on to publish a “Covid-19 Special Edition” of the annual “Digital Consumer Book Barometer”.

Bookwire Data Analyst Svenja Rohr processed around 5,300,000 data sets for in-depth analysis of the measurable changes – in this special edition, Wischenbart and Bookwire deliberately restricted themselves to data from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and to the period from February to June 2020.

The analysis reveals significant changes that can be attributed to interventions into consumer behaviour as a result of the measures taken to stem the Covid-19 pandemic. Observations of the changes will continue in the coming months to see whether this development will become more established:

Large potential for growth in eBooks

Sales of eBooks were rising steadily even before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold – as expected they increased significantly during lockdown (for example by around 26% in comparison to the weeks before lockdown began), and settled at a higher level than before even after lockdown had ended. This is revealed by the analysis of around 2,000,000 sales by leading eBook shop providers in the DACH region from February to June.

From this, Wischenbart concludes that eBooks have higher potential for growth than was generally predicted in the industry in previous years. The most striking feature is that the sales are not genre-dependent:

“Our data analysis has revealed that the “top genres” of romance and crime thrillers were not solely responsible for growth during the Covid-19 period. Even books for children and adolescents or non-fiction books can become eBook bestsellers”, remarks Jens Klingelhöfer, CEO of Bookwire GmbH, on the findings.

Audiobooks are growth drivers – and the effect is more sustainable in the flat subscription area

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic further intensified the boom in the audiobook business – with a clear trend in user behaviour:

Following a rapid rise in audiobook download purchases at the start of lockdown (plus 109%), this settled back down to a lower level of sales – albeit still above the “pre-corona period” – after “relaxations” began.

This was contrary to the development of flat subscription models: following a weaker increase (plus 28%) for download purchases, uses through this utilisation model continued to develop consistently strongly and are now as much as 37% above the level measured before lockdown.

Price makes the difference for Audiobooks

Shops and publishers are obviously using various marketing and discount campaigns to optimally position their titles during the Covid-19 period – and analysis of Bookwire data from around 55,000 audiobooks delivers a clear recommendation for action:

“Targeted audiobook campaigns advertised by trade and publishers during lockdown – such as price campaigns, discount vouchers or top title marketing – were immediately strongly reflected in increased sales figures. The combination of attractive offer and increased demand had significant effects on audiobook turnover in the download business. The power of appropriate marketing measures for audiobooks should no longer be underestimated”, summarises John Ruhrmann, Managing Director of Bookwire GmbH.

Five years of cooperation between Rüdiger Wischenbart and Bookwire

The “Covid-19 Special Edition”, which officially launches on 12 August 2020, examines a total of six “key findings” in detail, with informative charts and explanations from Rüdiger Wischenbart. This is the fifth time that Bookwire has been Rüdiger Wischenbart’s data partner for the “Digital Consumer Book Barometer” and, for this special edition, it is the first time it has been exclusive data provider. The “Covid-19 Special Edition” is being updated and will be published with an update in late summer. This will be followed by comprehensive international analysis of sales figures of eBooks and audiobooks in the full edition of the barometer in autumn 2020.

The innovative methodology used for the barometer enables authors, publishers and trade to improve both their strategy in digital program development and marketing of individual titles. Based on genuine sales figures from leading digital distribution service providers, the barometer shows how relevant parameters such as season, retail price or genre shape income and sales.

“Covid-19 Special Edition” available for free download: