COVID-19 pandemic and staycation lift Sweden’s book sales to record levels

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Book sales in Sweden hit an all-time high in the first half of 2021 as people traveled less and entertained themselves at home more than usual during the pandemic, setting the industry up for another stellar year after a record 2020.

The Swedish Booksellers’ Association said on Wednesday total sales were up 10 percent compared with the same period in 2020, with printed books up 7 percent and digital books up 14 percent. Children’s books led the rise.

Compared with the pre-pandemic first half of 2019, total sales were up 18 percent.

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“The trends we have seen since the start of the pandemic continue - It is digital sales channels and formats that are increasing, while book sales in physical bookstores are declining,” it said in a statement.

“At the same time, many of the association’s members see that vaccinated customers are returning to the stores and that ‘staycationing’ has also benefited sales this summer.”

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Maria Hamrefors, chairperson at the association, said stores located in large cities and malls accounted for the drop in physical trade. “Meanwhile, shops in holiday resorts or in areas where people live - and work at home - have done very well,” she said.

In Trosa on the Baltic coast, Helena Vazquez Sohlstrom, new part-owner of the small town’s century-old offline-only bookstore said sales were up in the first half of 2021, following an equally strong 2020.

In 2020, total book sales in the Nordic country rose 9 percent.

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