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Culture and Creativity

Books and Publishing

A woman relaxing on a sofa with a book

Overview of the sector

Publishing is one of the largest cultural industries in Europe, with a total market value estimated at €36-38 billion. According to a 2022 report of the European Publishers Federation, the entire book value chain is estimated to employ more than half a million people. The European book sector is incredibly rich and diverse, with more than 575,000 titles published annually.

However, many readers across Europe do not have access to the richness and diversity of European literature. The primary reasons for this are the linguistic and geographical fragmentation of the market. Literature from many European countries are rarely able to translate into the wide array of languages that make up its landscape.

The book sector has also accelerated its digital transition to address the changing habits of the market, so that it can broaden its readership and make the diversity of European literature more accessible.

Like many other culture and creative sectors, the publishing and book industry is working to contribute to the European Green Deal transition and rethink the ways industry contributes to the ongoing climate crisis.

The COVID-19 crisis has further amplified these trends and the need to support the recovery and competitiveness of the book sector.

Support for the book sector in the Creative Europe programme

The main objectives of the Creative Europe programme regarding the book sector is to reinforce the circulation of works in Europe, diversify the audience for European literature and strengthen the competitiveness of the publishing sector.

Creative Europe supports the book sector through horizontal funding schemes (cooperation projects, European platforms, European networks, Culture Moves Europe) and through sector specific actions such as support to Literary translation/Circulation of European literary works, the European Union prize for Literature and more recently the Day of European Authors.

In addition, policy actions such as the Open Method of Coordination (on Multilingualism & Translation in 2020-2021 and on Libraries in 2024) enable discussions with the sector, stakeholders and with EU member states and provide policy orientation on key issues.

Literary translation support (Circulation of European Literary Works)

The Creative Europe programme provides funding to organisations operating in the book and publishing sector to encourage the translation, publication, promotion and distribution of European works of fiction, mainly from less-represented European languages. The financial support covers 60% of the total costs of the projects. Most of the promotional activities (authors’ visits, festivals, readings…) are organised in cooperation with booksellers, libraries or literature festivals to reinforce the local/national book ecosystem.

The first Creative Europe programme (2014-2020) supported more than 400 projects in the book and publishing sector, with over 3000 translations of literary works, from more than 40 source languages into more than 30 target languages. More than 2/3 of the supported translations are from lesser-used languages (European languages other than English, Spanish, German and French), which shows the real value of the Programme to safeguard, develop and promote European cultural and linguistic diversity.

Read more about Creative Europe support to literary translation (2021-27)

Since the beginning of the 2021-2027 programme, 90 projects have been selected for the translation and promotion of more than 1,000 books across Europe. 

Find out more about the funding scheme “Circulation of European Literary Works

Cooperation, networks and platforms

In addition to supporting literary translation, the programme co-finances a variety of cooperation, networks and platforms funding schemes’ projects. The following past or ongoing projects are some examples of how Creative Europe supports the book sector throughout the value chain from the author to the reader.

Talent development

CELA (Connecting Emerging Literary Artists) trains and connects 30 emerging authors, 80 emerging translators and 6 emerging literary professionals offering a bigger opportunity to small languages and to drive change.

Poetry promotion

The Versopolis platform created in 2017 has grown over the years to include 23 poetry and literary festivals in Europe. Together they have promoted more than 200 poets from 32 different European languages and over 1,800 of their poems have been published on the website.

Book fairs

The project ALDUS (European Book Fairs’ network) is an international network of the largest book fairs in the world (Frankfurt and Bologna), several national fairs and publishing associations, with the ultimate goal of further professionalising the fast-changing European landscape of publishing.


The project RISE by the International and European federation of booksellers is a three-year project aiming to upscale, reinforce and maximise the capacity and resilience of the European bookselling sector.


The project Libraries of Emotions brings together various organisations from across Europe to promote a new and innovative way of reading and encourage bibliotherapy sessions in European public libraries.


Every story matters is a project whose aim is to increase the creation, availability and promotion of inclusive books for children and young adults in the EU.


The main objective of the LEILA project is to create tools and structural dynamics to promote the discoverability of works published in the Arabic language.

Related resources

The European Union Prize for Literature

This prize puts a spotlight on the wealth of creativity and diversity of Europe’s contemporary literature, particularly in the field of fiction. In this way, it promotes the circulation of literature within Europe and to encourages greater interest in non-national literary works.

The prize is organised by the Federation of European Publishers and the European and International Booksellers Federation, with the support of Creative Europe. Thanks to this prize and since its first edition in 2008, 135 emerging authors from 41 European countries have reached new markets as their works have been translated into several languages.

European Union Prize for Literature

Day of European Authors

The Day of European Authors is a new initiative of the European Commission to connect younger generations with book reading and to help them discover the diversity of European literature. The Day is also an opportunity to emphasise the importance of all the programmes and initiatives already running in individual EU countries to promote reading. The first edition of the Day of European Authors took place on 27 March 2023.

Day of European Authors

Dialogue and cooperation with EU member states and stakeholders

The Commission is in constant dialogue with the sector through, for instance, Open Method of Coordination (OMC) groups bringing together representatives and policymakers form EU members state and practitioners from the book value chain.

OMC report on translation and multilingualism - Translators on the cover report

The EU Expert Group on Multilingualism and Translation published its "Translators on the Cover" report in February 2022 on the role of translators for the cultural and creative sectors and the circulation of books in Europe.

The report proposes recommendations to improve translators’ working conditions and professional developments.

It also includes recommendations on how EU and member states’ public institutions can work together to stimulate the translation and the promotion of European books. The focus of the report is on literary translation, but the expert group gives also key recommendations for the audiovisual and theatre translation sectors.

Future OMC group on libraries

Libraries play a key role in Europe’s democratic, social, cultural, and educational landscape at all levels. The recently adopted EU Work plan for culture 2023-26 endorsed by the culture ministers provides for the establishment of a new OMC group on public libraries to be launched in 2024.

The group will explore the future of public libraries and in particular how to strengthen the multiple roles of libraries as gateways to and transmitters of cultural works, skills and European values.