5.3.4: 1910 - heden - Range (genre/language) and form of traded books

Around 1900 the total production of Dutch publishers, around 3,000 titles, was broad and diverse. Book buyers could often choose between a bound or sewn edition of a title. Most titles ended up (through wholesalers or the Centraal Boekhuis) at bookshops with various specialisations. Publishers who sold directly to the public often focused on a specific group of readers (for instance Callenbach focused on the Sunday schools, the Arbeiderspers on union members). There were also experimental book club forms, working with subscriptions. In 1937 the Nederlandse Boekenclub (NBC) was established, the first book club in the Netherlands. The 1930s also saw the pocketbook as a new format, which became very popular after the Second World War. In the fifties, its bigger brother appeared, the paperback, which became the most common method of binding from the sixties onwards. After 1945, the number of genres rose, each genre having a more or less typical appearance. The number of forms in which book appeared increased as well. There were loose-leaf books (used particularly for reference works) and books in newspaper format (such as Bulkboek); texts were recorded on records and audio cassettes, read by the author or others. The most recent development in this respect was the digital book form. At first computer disks and CD-ROMs were the data carriers, but nowadays, an increasing number of texts is published on the Internet. The latest developments combine these channels in the so-called electronic book, a term used to describe both the software (usually provided via networks) and the single small reading device (the hardware).

During the whole of the twentieth century, Dutch publishers have also published (mainly academic) books in foreign languages. Before 1940, most of them were in German; after 1945 more and more English book were published. Since the 1960s, the Netherlands has also become an important market outside the English-speaking world for the literary English book.

The Speurwerk Foundation (founded in 1960) started to collect annual data regarding book sales (per genre and binding) for each distribution channel. In 1966/1967 two more book club joined the NBC on the market, the Nederlandse Lezerskring (NLK) and Europaclub International (ECI), both successfully offering a limited range of titles to a wide public as sales rose to more than 20% of the total sales figures of general books.

In the 1980s the Maarten Muntinga publishing company marketed a successful formula resulting in a 'second paperback wave', copied by many publishers who set up their own paperback imprints. From the end of the twentieth century onwards, the regular bookshops had to contend with competition from the Internet bookshops. Their range is larger than even the biggest regular bookshop could house.

author: F.D.G. de Glas

Range (genre/language) and form of traded books