A nationwide campaign in Germany to promote reading has failed to stop a small decline in the number of physical books sold in the country. Unit sales in 2019 were down 0.4%, despite a campaign organised by the Börsenverein, the German booksellers and publishers association, which highlighted all the various moments it is possible to read a book. Called #buchmoment it used posters headed JETZT EIN BUCH! (A book now!) which suggested all those occasions – waiting for a train, waiting for washing at the laundromat – where it was possible to read.

The figures, compiled by Media Report and reported in German trade magazine Buchreport, were particularly worrying for December, with sales down 2.1% in value and 1.4% in volume. A separate survey for bricks and mortar stores only also showed a decline in volume of 1.4%.

Booksellers are telling publishers that books are too cheap and publishers seemed to have been listening. In the last year, book prices in Germany have risen by 1.9%. It was this fact that stopped the last 12 months from being disastrous. Figures by value were much better for the year, ending with a rise of 1.4%.

Meanwhile, the Börsenverein’s campaign, which was started in response to a survey which showed that people could not find the time to read, led to some striking images across the nation and also encouraged readers to send in their own ‘book moment’ pictures.