Dutch book sector struggling under paper shortage
The book sector seems to be the latest unexpected victim of the coronavirus pandemic. The massive increase in online shopping and food deliveries resulted in a huge demand for cardboard boxes, which in turn resulted in a shortage of paper pulp, NOS reports.
Paper pulp is increasingly likely to rather become a package- or pizza box than a book, as even book paper factories in Europe are being converted into cardboard box factories, according to the broadcaster.
"We are at the back of the line, that's my impression," Robert Jan de Rooij, director and owner of Wilco - one of the Netherlands' largest printing companies, said to NOS. Book printers are waiting longer and longer for deliveries. "The entire paper market is completely out of balance. If I want to have paper in stock, such an order normally takes a few weeks. Now I have to wait four months. So yes, sometimes publishers will have to wait for their books."
Martijn David of the General Publishers Group told the broadcasters that publishers are now having to plan their releases and re-releases very well. "You cannot call the printer on Tuesday and ask whether a reprint of 3,000 copies is available on Thursday. More books will be temporarily sold out, I expect. So no 'ordered today, delivered tomorrow'."
Marte Kersten of publisher VBK Media and the CPNB, the organizer of book campaigns in the Netherlands, confirmed these problems to NOS.
Despite the paper shortage, books are selling well in the Netherlands. Market researcher GfK expects the turnover will be nearly 5 percent higher in 2021 than in 2020, which was already a good year for selling books. A total of 41 million books were sold last year, involving a turnover of almost 600 million euros - 6 percent more than in 2019.