About our book market
The inhabitants of Flanders and the Netherlands speak a single common language: Dutch. 23.5 million people (17 million in the Netherlands and 6.5 million in Flanders) make it the fifth largest language in Europe. The book industry in Flanders has for that reason been for decades very much interwoven with the market in the Netherlands, which is apparent in many areas.
Flanders and the Netherlands
Until 2017, three big players (WPG, VBK and Lannoo) grouped together publishing houses from Flanders and the Netherlands, and occupied about half the market. VBK is largely Dutch, and Lannoo originated as a Flemish publisher with one foot firmly in the Netherlands. In 2018 the Flemish division of the Dutch group WPG became an autonomous Flemish publishing company, Standaard Uitgeverij.
In addition there are in both Flanders and the Netherlands a large number of independent publishers.
Almost all Flemish and Dutch publishers use the same central distributor, CB in Culemborg (NL), which was founded jointly by the Booksellers’ and the Publishers’ Association.
Because of the common language area authors can choose whether to work with either a Flemish or a Dutch publisher. This explains why Flemish authors do not automatically seek or find a home with a Flemish publisher.
Flanders has 84 publishers.
Collectively they bring out some 11,000 new titles per year. Half of these are general titles (including literature), and half educational and academic books or publications for professionals.
Apart from the big players Lannoo and Standaard Uitgeverij, most publishers are medium-sized or small, and specialise in one or more genres.
In addition, Flanders has some 15 importing businesses, which provide an extra supply, often in other languages.
Each year approximately half of the 15 million books sold go over the counter with bookshop chains.
In addition department stores and internet shops are important outlets.
For literature independent bookshops also play a significant role.
In total Flanders has some 295 different sales outlets for books.
The overall turnover of the Flemish book industry is approximately 195 million euros, or 11.2% of the creative industry in Flanders.
All told, some 3,000 full time equivalents (fte) work in the wider book industry.
The most important book event in Flanders is the annual book fair in Antwerp.
During the first 10 days in November some 150,000 visitors attend the consumer fair, which has an average range of 60,000 different titles.