5.3.5: 1910 - heden - Methods of distribution/advertising

How did a book get from the publisher to the consumer in this period? In many cases, there is an intermediating distribution centre, of which the Centraal Boekhuis (CB) in Culemborg is the largest. Publishers deposit their books with the CB, who can deliver quickly to bookshops and if necessary also take care of invoicing and collecting payments.

In the twentieth century, reading circles have become a rare occurrence. The drop in the price of books at the beginning of the century and the increase in incomes meant that more people could afford a private book collection. Public libraries were opened, whilst university libraries and municipal libraries became accessible to a wider public.

Traditionally, the general recognised bookshop was the place to buy books, but this changed in the 1960s. An increase in wealth, free time and education meant an increased interest in literature and therefore a larger market. The increase in costs did, however, force booksellers to economise on the traditional customer service. They no longer employed delivery boys and buying on credit and books sent to customers on approval slowly became a thing of the past. New outlets also appeared after recognition by the VBBB (now the KVB) was no longer required from 1967 onwards. Customer could from now on also buy books from department stores, stationers, newspaper stalls, grocers and tobacconists. Books could also be bought from mail order companies or book clubs and the most recent phenomenon is the Internet bookshop, which makes it possible to order books from behind a computer screen.

The increased demand for books since the sixties and the ever cheaper production techniques resulted in a dramatic increase in the twentieth century of the supply of books. Economic interests and commercial considerations have become more important. Both publishers and booksellers are focused more than before on ways in which they can increase their sales. Publishers now normally draw up a marketing plan and have a public relations department. Booksellers try, mainly through the bookshop chain of which they are a member and by means of shop catalogues or direct mailing, to persuade the public to buy their books. Publishers' and booksellers' organisations have, however, had joint promotional policies for a long time. In 1930 they set up the foundation for Collective Propaganda of Dutch Books (CPNB). Throughout the years, many initiatives were taken to market literary books to men, women and children, such as the book week, organised annually by the CPNB since its foundation.

Other parties involved in the promotion of books were the critics in daily and weekly publications, by writing reviews and passing judgement; the government, by supporting writers financially via the Fonds voor de Letteren and by awarding literary prizes; and of course the authors, by giving interviews and lectures and taking part in book signing sessions. Besides newspapers, weeklies and magazines, television, radio and, since the end of the twentieth century, the Internet were channels through which books were advertised.

author: N. van Dijk

Methods of distribution/advertising