5.2.11: 1910 - heden - Language/genre

The Speurwerk Foundation called the twentieth century a 'century of books'. In the period from 1900 to 1999, the Dutch publishers brought out a total of over 800,000 titles, of which half a million new ones. The number of books published annually rose from around 3,000 at the beginning of the twentieth century to more than 25,000 by 2008. As far as publications in foreign languages are concerned, the Netherlands have traditionally limited themselves almost entirely to academic publications, whereas in the Dutch-language area, the genres are of course much more diverse. Before the Second World War, the largest publishers were those that published schoolbooks. The growth in literary books was very limited, because these books were considered a luxury and public libraries were only small-scale customers. After 1945, the general demand for books increased; educational books remained in demand due to the increase in people attending higher education. In 1960, for instance, 2892 books were published for primary, secondary, higher and vocational education. There was a peak of 3897 titles in 1969, followed by a slow decline to 2771 in 1979.

The demand for literary books increased particularly in the sixties and seventies, partly due to the increased purchasing power. The total title production in 1971 amounted to 10,827 titles, of which 1173 were novels and novellas (10.8%). At the end of the decade, in 1979, 13,429 books were published, of which 1974 novels and novellas (14.7%).

In the course of the twentieth century a book bought, was increasingly a translated book. In the decades following the Second World War, the interest in translated books (especially from English) increased dramatically. The number of translations rose from 351 in 1946 to 3587 in 1979. Of those 3587 books, 1123 were novels or novellas and in this category, most books (802) were translated from English. 124 books were translated from German and 197 from other languages.

In the last decades of the twentieth century, the reading public was characterised by increased segmentation, resulting in an increasing demand for specialist books and books aimed at a certain public. For instance, in the 1980s, the 'woman's book' was launched, partly in the knowledge that women formed the largest group of readers and generally liked to read books written by women. Children were also seen as a separate and commercially interesting groups of readers and publishers increasingly focused on readers of specific genres, such as thrillers or romantic fiction. Interest in religious books declined, but on the other hand, there was an increased interest in general books on the philosophy of life and spiritual books.

author: N. van Dijk