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Athena

The book industry is doing better (in the Netherlands)

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There was an article in the newspaper this morning (Eindhovens Dagblad), that the book industry in the Netherlands is doing better than a few years ago. The article talks about Amazon, their plans for physical book shops, and how they don't have much market in the Netherlands. Because we have a set book price for each book of a specific format sold, online shops like bol.com (I'd recommend them) don't have as much of a market share over physical book shops as Amazon does in the US and UK (where Amazon sometimes lowers the prices of certain books, to the point where they don't have any profit). During the economic crisis, the book revenue was 642 million euros in 2009 and 485 million euros in 2014. Lots of shops and companies went bankrupt.

 

Nowadays though the industry is doing better in the Netherlands. E-books take up only 6% of the market, though there are also illegal copies going around that aren't included in this statistic for the obvious reason that they are not 'sold'. So most books sold are physical books. I would have to add to that personally, that for example Amazon US and Amazon UK have MUCH better deals for the Kindle than e-book selling websites in the Netherlands (including Amazon NL), most e-books are pretty expensive and you rarely see e-books below €5; €5 is when it's on sale. At least, that's as far I've browsed e-book selling sites myself. It probably has to do with the 'set' book price, though I'm not 100% sure of this.

 

Last year (2015) 39 million books were sold, an increase of 3.5 %. In the holiday period (Christmas) there were 15% more books sold than in previous years. The article also talks about the personal service you get in physical book shops, that you don't get online, interviewing a woman who works in a book shop.

 

Source: Eindhovens Dagblad, 4 February 2016, p. 22-23.

 

I don't intend this as a discussion of 'which is better, the physical book or the e-book' (there are other threads for that), I think both physical book shops, online book shops and e-book selling websites, and also book fairs are great places to buy books. But it's great the book industry is doing better (at least here). I thought it was an nice article to share. I've seen similar topics about the book industry in the UK here on the forum but now I've read one for my own country.

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That's really interesting to read. I personally don't know much about the book industry of my country but I understand what you mean about pricing, we have a similar policy in Belgium.

After browsing the e-book section on amazon.fr, I have noticed that e-books were almost as expensive as physical books, which to me doesn't make much sense. I like both format because to me, each has its own place and use but if I can get a physical books for 2 or 3 bucks more, I'll probably do that and convenience be damned !

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I think I'm right in saying that it used to be law in the UK that books had to be sold at the recommended price, but that stopped some years ago, long before e-books and Amazon were even thought of. I have the feeling that it was supermarkets that were pushing it, so they could compete on price with "proper" bookshops.

 

And while it's great individually that we can get books a little cheaper than before, like anything, we do have to be careful that authors and publishers get their fair share too.

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What you are referring to Ian is the so-called Net Book Agreement. I cannot recall exactly when it was abolished, but I know it has been pretty much downhill in terms of authors earnings since then, especially when they have no say in whether their books are discounted or not, which of course affects their royalties even more. It is just one of many reasons why self publishing is increasingly becoming the norm - for it is the only way for authors to have complete control of their own work.

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