Dutch read fewer books, but bookshops record higher turnover rates

18/03/2008 15:00

In 2007, bookshops again sold more books, newspapers and magazines. Though there is an increase in online buying, bookshops remain the most important sales channel, accounting for 55 percent of total book sales. The number of bookshops – on the other hand – is dwindling. Growing book sales is at odds with the amount of hours the Dutch spend on reading books, newspapers and magazines every week.

Turnover bookshops

Turnover bookshops

Turnover growth bookshops for third consecutive year

After two troublesome years, the situation has improved since 2005. In 2007, turnover of bookshops grew by nearly 2.5 percent relative to the previous year. Turnover volume as well as prices increased by 1.2 percent.

Number of bookshops and libraries

Number of bookshops and libraries

Fewer bookshops

Higher sales were spread across fewer shops. The number of bookshops in the Netherlands declined from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to approximately 1,100 in 2006. Small retailers in particular were forced into liquidation. The number of public library outlets has barely changed since 2000, but the number of books lent out was reduced by over 15 percent in the period 2000–2005. Since 2006, more children’s and juvenile books are being lent out.

Use of media, 12 years and older

Use of media, 12 years and older

Reading of printed media in decline as Dutch watch TV and surf the Internet

Over the past decades, a shift in reading behaviour has become apparent. In 1975, the average Dutch consumer spent 6 hours a week reading printed media like books, newspapers and magazines, as against 5 hours in 1990 and less than 4 hours in 2005. The Dutch spend less time reading books, but the amount of time reading newspapers and magazines was reduced more dramatically. On the other hand, they spent more time watching TV and surfing the Internet: altogether more than 15 hours a week in 2005.

Pieter Vankan