The global textbook market, particularly in France, has shown signs of growth, with projections indicating a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.28% from 2019 to 2023, mainly due to an increase in digital teaching methods. Despite this, the French market saw a slight drop in sales, from €2.837 billion to €2.792 billion. Sales of digital textbooks soared, with digital sales of primary and secondary textbooks up 111.9%, reflecting a strong adaptation to technological advances in education.

Major publishing houses such as Hachette, Hatier, Magnard, Belin and Nathan dominate the market, with over three-quarters of market share. The market is challenged by secondary markets such as used book sales and rental programs, indicating a complex market environment, strongly influenced by French legislation supporting educational policies and fixed book prices, further shaping market dynamics.

Market dynamics and key trends in the French textbook sector

The French textbook market has characteristics that distinguish it from other consumer markets, due to its nature and the interaction of the various factors that influence demand. A key aspect to consider is that teachers hold the decision-making power in the choice of textbooks, acting in effect on behalf of their students who are the real end consumers. This trend gives teachers considerable influence over the market, and leads publishers to exert significant control over prices, often setting textbook prices higher than they would be in a perfectly competitive market. An overview of demand trends reveals an interesting growth pattern. This anticipated growth can be attributed to a significant shift towards digital teaching methods.

However, the presence of a second-hand book market reduces demand for new textbooks, as students recycle books amongst themselves or use online platforms and wholesalers to buy them at lower prices. The rental market also plays a role, offering students more accessible financial means to access textbooks, especially as new editions are generally spaced a few years apart and feature only marginal improvements in content.

As far as the structure of supply in this sector is concerned, major companies such as Hachette, Hatier, Magnard, Belin and Nathan together account for an overwhelming market share of over three-quarters. In addition, electronic textbooks, supported by France's digitization policies, although economical, retain a relatively modest market penetration.

As far as pricing is concerned, the French textbook market has several variables that influence the final price, with textbooks ranging from a few euros to a hundred euros. The pricing model includes the distribution of revenues between libraries or sales outlets, distributors, authors, publishers and advertisers. Notably, for elementary school pupils, the average cost of textbooks hovers around 10 to 15 euros, while for high school pupils it's around 20 to 30 euros. Exploring the typology of supply in this segment, the market diversifies into categories such as general secondary school textbooks, technical/vocational, higher technical, extracurricular, preparatory classes, and primary school textbooks. Statistical data indicate that over 60 million individual textbooks have been sold, representing revenues of the order of 350 to 400 million euros. This represents around 10-15% of all book sales on the market.

The legal framework in France is still highly regulated by the "Lang" law.

Key players dominating the French textbook market landscape

The French textbook market is characterized by a small group of influential publishers who have consolidated a significant share of the industry.

  • Hachette is in first place. Part of the Lagardère group, Hachette not only constitutes a substantial share of the national market, but also extends its dominance to French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa, controlling around 80% of the schoolbook market in this region.
  • Hatier, another Lagardère subsidiary, joins the market leaders. It is known for its comprehensive range of textbooks for all levels of education. With a history of producing quality educational materials, Hatier has become a household name in the French academic community.
  • Editis, which includes Bordas and Nathan, offers an extensive catalog of textbooks. Bordas is particularly renowned for its contributions to the teaching of literature, while Nathan offers a varied selection of teaching materials covering several subjects and grade levels.
  • Magnard, part of the Albin Michel group, adds to the competitive landscape with its range of textbooks for primary and secondary schools. Its commitment to providing content in line with French educational standards has made it an essential supplier in the academic arena.
  • Although Belin's market presence is smaller than that of giants such as Hachette and Hatier, it has carved out a niche for itself by focusing on creating textbooks that are both comprehensive and pedagogically innovative.

In a market undergoing rapid digital transformation, these players are not only competing in the traditional print arena, but are also exploring e-book formats and online distribution channels, in response to changing digital consumption habits in education.

Thanks to their strategic positioning, these key players exert influence on the French textbook market not only as publishers, but also as trend-setters, influencing the future direction of educational content provision in France and beyond.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market summary

1.1 Definition and scope of the study

In the schools and universities a textbook is a written document - which is not necessarily published exclusively in printed form - containing thoughts, ideas and information stored singularly, referring to a branch of study, and used in school or university for educational purposes.

In France, textbooks are freely chosen and selected by each school or university teacher or professor on the basis of the guidelines of a national or chosen curriculum. In addition, the french association of publishers which has approximately 670 member publishing houses in France, acts as an unofficial accreditation institution to control, support and promote intellectual property, insofar as french legislation can only prohibit textbooks if it is contrary to morality.

It should be noted that this market is defined as an imperfect market It does not meet the rigorous criteria of a perfectly competitive market. It is different from other common consumer markets for two main economic reasons

  1. Teachers, professors and teachers replace their students (real end consumers) in the choice of textbooks
  2. As a result, publishers have significant market power to set prices (potentially higher than in a competitive market)

In addition, highly vertical integration and concentration in the market - with few large companies with a high market share - reduces competition and potentially increases prices. These companies include Hachette, Hatier, Magnard, Belin and Nathan which hold over three quarters of the textbook market in France.

The global textbook market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.28% between 2019-2023 due to a drastic increase of digital pedagogical methods.

In addition, the school and university textbook market is confronted with the second-hand book market (the sales process is carried out either from students to students, or from students to wholesalers or online sales platforms, with a significant discount on the price) It is also confronted with rental programs, since new editions are generally published several years apart and do not offer any significant improvements in terms of content. New editions are usually published to stimulate demand and prices by offering bundles, i.e. by offering additional items in addition to the manual (such as CDs).

Finally, electronic textbooks and e-books - supported by French digitalisation policies - aimed at increasing and diversifying the learning curve of students, capture a secondary share of demand. They are cheaper to buy even if penetration seems low in France (around 1% in 2014) due to fixed selling prices.

1.2 Market structure and trends

Statistics on the school and university book market are data derived from the more general book market

The European textbook market has been growing since ****.

To understand the current evolution of this market in Europe, the Federation of European Publishers (***) - representing ** national associations of publishers from the European Union and ...

1.3 The strong French market

In **** the turnover of the textbook market in France was *** million euros, amounting to ** euros per second. This includes all educational levels, including primary and secondary school up to university level. This number represented a grand total of **.*% of the editorial market share in terms of value in that year. To ...

1.4 The Francophone world, a natural market

French editorial houses have had significant international success, particularly in titles for younger readers, comic books and fiction. These three categories alone account for **% of titles sold in ****, a figure that is stable compared with previous years.

French books are also quite successful in terms of translation with almost **.*** different books ...

1.5 The Impact of COVID-19

The publishing houses the produce school and university textbooks are largely diversified within the publishing sector (***). Like most companies in France and throughout the world, they were not spared the economic impacts of the COVID-** pandemic. The National Editorial Syndicate conducted a survey at the end of the first confinement in ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Different establishments: primary, middle & high schools and universities

Obviously, textbooks are overwhelmingly used in school and universities by students and teachers. 

In **** in France there were *.***.*** million people directly employed in the education sector. ***.*** of these were teachers in educational establishments of which ***.*** in public institutions and ***.*** in private ones. ***.*** of these exercise extra-educational functions (***)

In France there are ...

2.2 New curricula & back to school

The book market is quite unpredictable with fluctuating sales. Publishers try to anticipate these but it is ultimately out of their control. However there is one phenomenon that reproduces itself every three or fours years that results in an absolute certainty of sales and results in significant revenues: the announcement of ...

2.3 Geographical distribution

The demand for school textbooks is correlated with the geographical distribution of students. Île-de-France is the region with the highest number of students, of all levels, counting almost **% of students in France (***).

The map below illustrates the geographical distribution of students in Metropolitan France. Île-de-France being the richest and most populated ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Giants at the top

There are a little more than ** editors in this sector of which over two thirds produce textbooks exclusively on specific school subjects (***), while the rest are very diversified producing textbooks for all subjects and for all classes.

With new curriculums being issued every few years editorial houses that produce textbooks have ...

3.2 The advent of the digital sphere

The digital textbook is a relatively new and untapped market that is attracting a lot of interest. **** was the first year in which digital played a significant role in education, with the curricular reforms and the integration of a concrete digitalised educational plan at national level. This resulted in over ** million ...

3.3 Buying and selling: different locations and methods

The classic distribution method of books, from author to reader, is illustrated in the graphic below. It is not different regarding textbooks.

Source: ****

There are * main selling locations for books in France:

Level * libraries (***) Level * libraries + internet + specialised selling locations (***) Large specialised surfaces (***) Supermarkets and hypermarkets with book sections)

Source: ****

Most ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 Pricing depends on many parameters

The price of books is the result of several factors, including some of the costs (***) of the production chain - authors, publishers, producers, distributors, retailers, copyright and author's rights, design, length, author's reputation, VAT of *.*% for books and e-books in France, raw materials and machinery, paper, ink and machine depreciation, amont ...

4.2 Typology of the offer

In **** **.*** million individual textbooks for secondary educational establishments were sold in France for a total of *** million euros. This accounted for **.*% of the market share in terms of value and **% in terms of volume. 

These can be categorised in * different ways:

General textbooks for secondary education (***) Technical and professional textbooks for ...

5 Rules and regulations

5.1 French legislation benefits the market

In France, government policies such as free public schools, compulsory schooling up to the age of **, scholarships for students from low-income families, curriculum changes, contributions and grants (***) create an environment that allows for high enrollment rates and assured enrollment up to at least secondary level. Consequently, high participation rates support the ...

List of charts

  • Nombre de livres vendus au moins une fois par an
  • Ventes de livres en volume et évolution d'une année sur l'autre
  • Chiffre d'affaires des maisons d'édition et évolution d'une année sur l'autre
  • Nombre moyen d'exemplaires de livres imprimés par an
  • Chiffre d'affaires par type de manuels scolaires
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Latest news

Webtoon: Media Participation's Ono platform joins forces with Korean studio - 29/11/2023
  • Ono is the platform of France's third-largest publishing company, Média-Participations.
  • Ono moves into the original territory of the webtoon.
  • Onovient joins forces with Kenaz, South Korea's largest independent webtoon producer Creation of a 50/50 joint venture
  • Kenaz works with over 400 creators worldwide.
  • Kenaz supplies content to various international clients, including Piccoma (Kakao), Webtoon (Naver), Apple Books (Japan and USA) and ByteDance (TikTok) in China.
  • Ono plans to produce webtoons in France in the coming months.
  • Translation and lettering costs from Korean to French are three times higher than the purchase of rights for Ono.
  • The Ono platform, launched eight months ago, boasts over 250,000 downloads.
  • Ono's ambition is to become the third major player in the sector in Europe, behind Naver and Piccoma.
  • Ono's catalog of web series will total 300 by the end of the year.
  • Ono has acquired some 50 series from Verytoon and 100 from Delitoon.
  • Ono plans to offer manga on their platform early next year.
Media Marticipation: Ono, the Frenchman who wants to become Europe's number three webtoon maker - 13/07/2023
  • Competition between the Piccoma (Kakao) and Webtoon (Naver) platforms to dominate the French webtoon market.
  • The Ono platform, owned by Media-Participations (Dargaud, La Martinière, Dupuis), aims to become France's number three webtoon platform
  • The Ono platform, which has merged with Webtoon Factory, has a development budget of almost 15 million euros.
  • Ono, which was launched 4 months ago, has 125,000 downloads and aims to reach the million mark within three years.
  • Webtoon claims 2 million monthly active users, while Piccoma has passed the million mark.
  • Ono currently has 150 series in its catalog, 100% of which are webtoons.
  • Izneo, another digital Franco-Belgian comics application, will operate in parallel with Ono.
  • Ono's content is monetized through the sale of reading credits ("coins").
Board games: Hachette acquires Catch Up Games - 05/06/2023
  • Acquisition of Gigamic in 2019
  • Acquisition of Hiboutatillus (creator of Blanc Manger Coco) in 2021
  • Acquisition of La Boîte de Jeu (Au Creux de ta Main, Cerbère...) in 2022
  • Acquisition of a majority stake in French publisher Catch Up Games, founded in 2014
  • 20 games in the Catch Up Games catalog (e.g. Sobek 2 players, Cubirds, The Loop)
  • 8th studio to join Hachette Boardgames thanks to acquisition of Catch Up Games
  • Catch Up Games joins Funnyfox, Studio H, Sorry We Are French, Le Scorpion Masqué, Hiboutatillus, La Boîte de jeu and Gigamic within Hachette Boardgames
Hachette launches metavers, a publishing first - 01/06/2023
  • Hachette is the French leader and number three worldwide in publishing (excluding the professional sector).
  • Hachette to acquire a stake in French start-up PowerZ in summer 2021
  • The launch of PowerZ's educational game project, which aims to become the "Fortnite of education"
  • Around ten Hachette publishing houses, mainly focused on the youth segment, are working or will be working with PowerZ
  • The metaverse developed jointly by Hachette and PowerZ is entitled "Beyond the pages" and is freely accessible.
  • Two works featured in the metaverse are "Panique dans la Mythologie" by Fabien Clavel and "Le Dernier Ours" by Charlotte Bousquet.
Comic publishers launch their own webtoons platforms - 06/04/2023
  • Média-Participations and Ankama have launched their own webtoons platforms, Ono and AllSkreen.
  • Market leader in France: Piccoma (a subsidiary of the Korean group Kakao) invested around 10 million euros in its launch in France
  • piccoma has one million readers and offers nearly 300 series.
  • Piccoma generated nearly 1 million euros in spending among its readers in the first quarter of 2023, while Naver Webtoon generated 2.1 million euros.
  • The manga market will be worth 350 million euros by 2022.
The declining odyssey of Editis - 15/03/2023

Relevant key figures:

  • - Enterprise value of Editis at the time of Vivendi's acquisition: nearly 900 million euros
  • - Editis enterprise value at the time of exclusive negotiations with Daniel Kretinsky: 700 million euros
  • - 344 million euros in sales in 2021 for diffusion-distribution -and 336 million euros in 2021 for literature
  • - Likely takeover by Daniel Kretinsky
  • - Vivendi owns Editis' main French rival, Hachette

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Presses Universitaires de france PUF (Humensis)
Presses universitaires de Rennes
Hachette Jeunesse
Hatier (Hachette Groupe)
Gibert Joseph
Media Participations
Sejer (Groupe Editis)

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