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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

The Flemish-Dutch publishers booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016.
The Flemish-Dutch publishers' booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016. © Katarina Ivanisevic

Three big players (WPG, VBK and Lannoo) group together publishing houses from Flanders and the Netherlands, and occupy about half the market. The Dutch group WPG also has a Flemish division, VBK is largely Dutch, and Lannoo originated as a Flemish publisher with one foot firmly in the Netherlands. 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.

Publishers

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 WPG, 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.

BOOKSHOPS

Bookshop Paard Van Troje in Ghent.
Bookshop Paard Van Troje in Ghent. © Julie Donckers

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.

Figures

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.

BOOK EVENT

The Antwerp Book Fair.
The Antwerp Book Fair. © Neil Van Craeyn

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.