The Czech book market has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid pandemic and associated restrictions, which forced bookstores across the country to close for several months last year.
Today, publishers in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe are grappling with a different problem: a shortage of paper and board. For large publishers, this could mean lost sales of millions of crowns.
Antonin Kočí, director of Euromedia Group, one of the Czech Republic’s leading publishing houses, says the problem is mainly caused by rising timber prices. As a result, her company is forced to reduce the number of copies she planned to release:
“It has to do with logging. We use the same wood as American companies that build homes in the United States and Canada. China also has a huge consumption of wood, so its prices are skyrocketing, and there just isn’t enough for other uses.
Although the situation is not critical, Martin Vopěnka, president of the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers, says that this could affect book prices in the future:
“Unfortunately, paper will certainly become more expensive. Only a significant strengthening of the crown could alleviate this problem. In the next few years, this will be reflected in the price of other raw materials, as well as in the price of energy and everything else.
According to Antonin Kočí of the Euromedia group, the price of their books could increase by up to 20%. Another major Czech publisher, Albatros Media, also expects its prices to rise, says one of its managers, Petr Baláš:
“Unfortunately, part of the cost increase will be reflected in the price of the books. However, I don’t expect the hike to be overly dramatic. I think it will be several dozen crowns per title.
By the end of the year, Albatros Media plans to publish some 400 titles. But the shortage of paper will also affect small publishers, such as Paseka, which publishes only around 50 titles a year, explains its director, Jakub Sedláček:
“Publishers usually try to get all their new titles out by mid-November. If you do it later, bookstores are already filled with so many new books that it’s actually too late.
According to data from the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers, some 14,117 titles were printed in the Czech Republic last year, almost 19% less than in 2019. How far the Czech book market will be- Will it be affected by the current paper shortage, remains to be seen.