Book sales soared in 2021, but shops in the Netherlands are struggling

Book sales soared in 2021, but shops in the Netherlands are struggling

The coronavirus pandemic and the various national lockdowns have appeared to have had a positive effect on book sales in the Netherlands, with the country reporting 43 million books sold in 2021 - the highest number recorded in 10 years. 

COVID-19 allowed people to rekindle their love of reading

With cinemas, museums, restaurants, shops, and so many other businesses forced to close, and guidance from the Dutch government asking members of the public to limit social contacts as much as possible, it seems the people of the Netherlands turned to more traditional pastimes to, well, pass the time.

One activity that proved particularly popular last year was reading - or at least, a number of people found themselves spending more money on books than they had in years. Whether it was to re-visit an old favourite, brush up on their Dutch, or bond with their kids over a children's classic, many people rekindled their love of reading last year.

In the Netherlands alone, shoppers bought 43 million books, according to the Collective Promotion for the Dutch Book (CPNB). Children’s literature profited the most from this increased interest, experiencing the most significant growth out of all genres, but the most popular book in the Netherlands last year was the latest instalment in Lucinda Riley's Seven Sisters series, The Missing Sister.

Book shops struggling to compete with online giants

While an increasing number of people spent more money on literature, book shops across the country are still struggling to get by as they compete with the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping. Last year, the number of books sold by physical stores fell by 7 percent. 

Interestingly, while many customers turn to online giants like Bol and Amazon when ordering their next paperback, the popularity of the controversial e-book does appear to be falling nationally. Last year, e-book sales in the Netherlands fell by 2 percent.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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