Book sales hit new high but bookstores struggle


Book sales hit a 10-year high in 2021 with 43 million copies sold, but bookstores are struggling, according to figures from book promotion organization CPNB.

Online sales jumped 19% but physical bookstores suffered from the confinement of the first months of 2021 and the pre-Christmas closure. Despite attempts to persuade people to ‘buy local’, the number of books sold in stores fell by 7%.

Libraries were also affected by the closures and circulation figures were down 10% from the previous year.

Children’s books were the most popular of all genres, a sign, according to the CPNB, that the coronavirus had made parents realize the importance of reading to their children and stimulated them to read themselves.

The market for books primarily in English grew by 28%, compared to only 1% for books in Dutch.

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“Book sales are doing well, we have seen the highest number of books sold in 10 years,” CPNB director Eveline Aendekerk said. “But this growth masks the worrying decline in bookstore sales and the declining share of books in Dutch. Both can pose a threat to the literary climate in the Netherlands and we should be mindful of that.

CPNB will release a list of the 100 best-selling books of 2021 later Thursday.

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