Covid-19: Decrease in the income of British libraries

What has been the reason for the decrease in British visits to libraries in the last two years?

How much has the reduction in direct British visits to libraries affected their income?

How much has online book sales in the UK increased since the outbreak of Covid-19?

What is the reason for the British tendency to buy books online in the last two years?


New figures show that attendance at British libraries fell 72 percent last fiscal year from the year before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Reduce face-to-face visits to libraries in the UK

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) published its annual statistics two months later than previous years. These figures show that by March 2021, only 59.7 million people had visited the UK libraries in person, compared to 214.6 million in the same period in 2020. The decrease in visits to British libraries came as the number of permanent libraries and mobile systems in the country increased by 5% to 3,842 libraries. Decreasing the number of people visiting libraries in the UK harms their income and can lead to their bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the Boris Johnson administration has not provided any assistance in closing libraries and laying off jobs.

A sharp decline in book publishing in the UK in 2021

In 2021, the number of books published in the UK decreased by 56%, from 165.9 million volumes to 72.9 million volumes. Nevertheless, the number of online visits to the country’s libraries continued to grow during the Covid-19, rising 18% to 154.7 million. According to the CIPFA, the total revenue of British libraries in the past fiscal year also fell by £20m from £75m to £56.6m compared to 2019/20.

Increased book reading after the outbreak of Covid-19

 The book market has had a strange experience over the past year. While the Covid-19 has severely challenged the markets for cinema, theatre, music and the visual arts, the book market is booming. The world’s leading media outlets confirmed this, saying that reading flourished during the Covid-19. Global Mobile Phone E-book Reader Market reports that e-book sales in the United States have increased so much over the past few years that many e-book sites likened the book market to a hot cake that sold out in a short period of production.

Increase online book sales in 2021

At the beginning of 2021, the sales rate increased by 21% in January alone compared to the same period in 2020, which was unprecedented in the sale of these books. According to the latest data and statistics released from publishers and producers of e-books, more than $91.5 million was their only income through the sale of e-books in January 2021. According to the report, after the outbreak of Covid-19, most bookstores relied on their online sales, and even though the bookstore chain Barnes & Noble tried to reopen some of its branches, he still counted on his online sales. Online bookstore sales grew 25 percent to $ 244 million.

Highest book sales in the UK

In 2021, despite nationwide quarantines and closures, book sales in the UK continued to grow, reaching more than 212 million, the highest sales in a decade. Due to readers’ interest in crime, science-fiction, fantasy, romance and motivational novels, UK book market sales increased by 5% in 2021 compared to 2020. For the first time in a decade, it exceeded £1.8bn. The high sales of books in the UK are when public attendance has been minimized due to restrictions, quarantine and transfer risks, and many Britons prefer to shop online.

Increased sales of fiction in the UK

According to figures released by Nielsen BookScan, despite the closure of British bookstores in the first quarter of 2021, fiction sales increased by 20% compared to 2019. In this category, sales of books in the crime and thriller genres increased by 19%, science fiction and fantasy books by 23% and romance books by 49%. Richard Osman’s first two novels drove crime’s strong performance: The Thursday Murder Club was the year’s bestselling title, while The Man Who Died Twice was the fourth bestselling title of the year. In non-fiction, the mind, body, spirit category saw the most significant growth, up by 50% to hit a lifetime high of £18.7m.

Covid-19: Increased tendency to read novels 

Welcoming the booming book market in the UK, Kiera O’Brien, charts editor at The Bookseller, said: “It does seem to be a re-discovered/newfound love of reading driving sales across the board. Fiction rising 20% against 2019 (for the non-lockdown weeks of 2021) is incredible, given how sluggish fiction sales have been previously. Of course, Osman brought in nearly £12m in the non-lockdown weeks alone. Still, both Hamnet and Shuggie Bain hitting the year’s top 20 bestseller list shows literary fiction is rising (and perhaps the nation’s desire to support their local indie too).”


The outbreak of the Covid-19 has shut down many political, social and cultural activities and events, including festivals, exhibitions and the closure of cinemas, theatres, concerts and bookstores, and has had many adverse effects on global markets and economies in various sectors, including Put culture. The outbreak of this emerging virus has also had a very negative impact on British visits to libraries in the UK. Also, during the Covid-19 episode, the desire of people to buy books online has increased.

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