The Arts domain page contains figures and information about the makers and readers of general books, and about organizations such as publishers, bookstores and libraries that form the links between them. General books include both fiction and non-fiction books, but not scientific books or study books. We also pay attention to forms of literature outside the paper book, such as e-books, audio books, apps and performance art (spoken word).


The sector is recovering. After a number of difficult years, an increase is visible again in sales figures and lending figures of libraries. This shows that foreign-language books and e-books form an increasingly larger part of the supply. Although reading has increased, there are at the same time concerns about the reading skills of young people. Various campaigns and initiatives have been set up to increase the reading pleasure and reading motivation of young people.

The need to make the literature sector more diverse and inclusive is also increasingly felt, resulting in various ambitions, initiatives and research projects. Innovation in the book trade is reflected in various forms of innovation, which focus, among other things, on new ways of metadata, recommending books, digital literature and spoken word.

Introduction and key figures

The Dutch literature sector is characterized by a high degree of cooperation and collectivity, with common regulations and agreements such as the Fixed Book Price Act and the Model Contract for Original Dutch Literary Work. In addition to the many partnerships, there is also an extensive knowledge infrastructure. This knowledge infrastructure consists, among other things, of: Reading monitor from the Reading Foundation, Library Network (and within Library Insight) of the Royal Library and different monitors from KVB Boekwerk. Based on these monitors, additional sources and conversations with stakeholders, the Culture Monitor provides an overview of the most important themes, developments and bottlenecks within the Arts domain.

This domain existed in 2022 from 17.670 active authors and 2.660 active translators, which at 4.058 publishing houses KVB Boekwerk 11.400e, 2023f) published 2023 new titles. Only a very small proportion of them can live entirely from book sales, which means that most creators supplement their income with, for example, commercial writing assignments, performances and subsidies or scholarships (KVB Boekwerk 2023g). At least 2022 occurred in 5.154 author appearances place and 10,8 million euros in regular subsidies and OCW project subsidies (in addition to just under 1,4 million euros from the corona support packages) (Dutch Literature Fund 2023).

Authors and translators

This figure provides key figures from KVB Boekwerk on the number of active authors and translators and their income from royalties, as well as on the number of contracts for author performances concluded through De Schrijverscentrale. You can switch between the different graphs via the tabs above the figure.


Source: KVB Boekwerk and De Schrijverscentrale

In 2023, 43 million books were sold, spread over 652.000 unique titles. Fiction books made up the largest share of sales (42 percent), and 20 percent of sales were in other languages. This book sale generated a turnover of 685 million euros. By 2023, physical stores will have sold more books (56 percent) than the e-commerce channel (44 percent). For comparison: in 2019 this was 63 percent compared to 37 percent. Physical stores and e-commerce both have a 50 percent share of the total turnover of the book market (KVB Boekwerk 2024a).


Based on figures from KVB Boekwerk, this figure provides insight into the Dutch general book market. The first two graphs show the total sales and turnover of the market. In the third figure, turnover is then broken down by sales channel.


Source: KVB Boekwerk

Books could also be found in 2022 in 1.270 library locations (KB 2022b). Here, 53,2 million physical books and almost 7,5 million e-books and audio books were borrowed by 2,2 million youth members and almost 1,3 million adult members (CBS 2023a, 2023c). However, lending books is only one aspect of the increasing social role that libraries play. The library makes knowledge and information available, offers opportunities for development and education, contributes to promoting reading, stimulates meetings and debate, and introduces people to art and culture (KB 2023b). She contributes to major social tasks as a literate society, acquiring and further developing (basic) skills, and (digital) participation and inclusion in the information society (VOB et al. 2021). This is reflected, among other things, in the increasing number of activities in libraries. Between 2015 and 2019, this number almost tripled from 78.745 to 220.227. In 2022, that number will have increased to 247.088 activities (KB 2023b).

Public libraries

Public libraries are undergoing a transformation from traditional lending libraries to organizations with a broad social function. This is reflected in the figures collected here from the KB and CBS. The number of loans in 2022 has increased, as has the number of activities and events organized by libraries.


Source: CBS and KB

What else do we want to know about the Arts domain?

As mentioned, the Arts domain has an extensive knowledge infrastructure, and a lot of regular research is already being conducted by all links in the chain. However, a wish that was mentioned in discussions for this analysis is more insight into and interpretation of regional data. How does literature consumption differ per region, and how can, for example, the market and reading promotion activities respond to this? Data about this has been added in the Dashboard of the Culture Monitor. In addition, it also contains the Regional Culture Monitor by the Boekman Foundation and Atlas Research a chapter on regional distribution in literature (Berg et al. 2022).

A wish for the Culture Monitor as a whole is also to make comparisons and show cross-connections between different domains within the cultural sector. These show how and where domains intersect and offer the opportunity to be inspired by or learn from practices in other domains.

Finally, the international context could also be more involved in the future. For example, it would be useful to map international activities and translations from and into Dutch. In addition, a comparison between the Dutch literature sector and abroad could possibly provide inspiration and new insights.

Want to know more about the Arts domain?

View more data about the Arts domain the Dashboard of the Culture Monitor.

The Arts domain has various monitors that contain a lot of information about the sector, such as Reading monitor from the Reading Foundation, Library Insight of the KB and the Market, Makers, Publishers, Booksellers and Readers Monitor of KVB Bookwork.

More literature about the Arts domain can also be found in the Knowledge Base of the Boekman Foundation.

Read an earlier version of this text again December 2020 , November 2021 , March 2022 , August 2022 en March 2023 back.


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In 2021 we have the different people spoken for the purpose of collecting information for the development of this domain page.

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Broederenkerk Library in Zutphen / Photography: Lisa Maatjens