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Crisis Deepens in Book Business

Bookstores are closed because of financial problems. Representatives of  several bookstores say that the crisis deepens in the sector over the past 2 years. There is heavy situation in the sector, in general, they said.

Mariam Kikacheishvili, head of Books in Vake store, talks about difficult financial situation in the sector. Sales indicators have considerably decreased compared to the previous year and there are several reasons: economic situation in Georgia and reduction of solvency of our citizens. As a result, Georgian citizens do not have money to buy books and they prefer to buy essentials, Kikacheishvili noted.

As to the second reason,  books have risen in value because of GEL devaluation. Publishing houses have to pay higher imports tariffs and this factor directly hikes the prime cost of books, she pointed out.

Problems deepen, because publishing houses have been ejected from printing school textbooks. As a result, they are facing financial problems and publishing houses are less interested in printing fictions, Kikacheishvili said.

Biblus network  applies dumping prices on the market and sells books at very low tariffs, giveaway price. “I do not know what resources they use to sell fictions for 2-3 GEL. Other bookstores are in minority. They should be protected by law, but there is not due legislation in Georgia”, Kikacheishvili said.

Biblus is the market leader and leads other bookstores to bankruptcy, she added.

As to the  growing demand for electronic books, Kikacheishvili noted that ratio of similar books on the market is very small.

Moreover, activation of electronic books cannot narrow the market, because printed books have their readers, she said.

“Everybody has realized in the  world that replacement of printed books by electronic books will destruct major industries. Therefore, they provide much support to printed books. Even more so, there are many readers in Georgia”, Kikacheishvili said.

As to the most in-demand field of literature, Kikacheishvili said that books for children and foreign-language literature are in great demand. As to business literature, Georgia lacks for these books. The company conveys this literature that are published in English and Russian, but Georgian readers are less interested in them, Kikacheishvili noted.

Giorgi Darsalia, head of Parnasi store, noted that over the past 2 years number of clients decreased. Books became cheaper and this factor makes negative effect on market development. Consequently, low-quality books are printed and other stores also face problems.

GEL depreciation has affected various sectors, but Biblus feels responsibility before the country to make the books and reading affordable and attainable in any point of Georgia. Therefore, we are trying to cope with all problems and improve the quality, Biblus representatives said.

Despite the market realities, Biblus expands the network. Two new branches will open in the near future (Tbilisi and region), he said.

As to prices in the network, 90% of books have fixed prices. Biblus is trying to permanently offer books to readers as part of campaigns and tariffs are discounted as part of these campaigns, Biblus representatives said.

Several months ago Tamar Lebanidze, head of Diogene publishing house, talked about 40% reduction in number of clients, as well as about growing financial problems. Today, Diogene representatives confirm that there is heavy situation in Diogene. People prefer to buy essentials and they do not have enough money to buy books, she said.

There are several reasons behind a plunge in sales, Tamar Lebanidze noted several months ago.

General economic background and subjective factors have brought this reality, she said.

“We do not have enough quantity of long-sellers and bestsellers to increase sales. We  do not have money to print them. Consequently, this factor makes negative affect on the market. We also lack for new books because of economic problems. Consequently, sales have plunged because of lack of new books”, Lebanidze noted.

As to expected influence of electronic books, Lebanidze explained that, according to the 2015 indicators, sales of electronic books decreased on English-language market too, while this segment was a leading niche on the market.

“Development of electronic books and growth in their market ratio was mostly recorded on English-language market. Certain reduction was recorded in 2016. Therefore,  sales of printed books increased. Thus, electronic books will not have considerable influence”, Lebanidze said.

A little different situation is reported at Santa Esperansa bookstore. The company explains that in previous years the book business was in crisis, but now sales have increased.

Our marketing activities have preconditioned upturn in sales. Fiction literature is the most in-demand segment currently, they explained.