Number of titles down but Czechs still big readers

For the first time since 2005, there has been a fall in the number of books published in the Czech Republic. A regular survey by the Czech National library shows that the number of books published in 2009 was about a thousand lower than the previous year. However, despite the decrease Czechs still rank among the most avid readers in Europe and overall sales of books remain pretty much on the same level.

Some 17,600 titles were published in 2009, which is about a thousand less than in the previous year. Most publishers and booksellers are not disconcerted, however. Rather than a result of the global economic crisis, they see it a sign that the book market has become oversaturated. Jan Kanzelsberger is the manager of the biggest chain of bookshops in the Czech Republic:

“We actually don’t feel it as a negative thing because we think that the number of titles published in the past was too high in comparison with the demand. Of course there is some influence of the financial crisis but we regard it as a positive trend: the publishers are trying to behave very economically and they realize that a bigger number of titles produced doesn’t automatically mean bigger sales.”

There are currently more than 4,000 publishing houses in the Czech Republic and the country boasts the densest network of public libraries in Europe. Despite the falling number of books published, Jan Kanzelsberger says Czechs still read as much as they used to:

Jan Kanzelsberger
“We wouldn’t say that Czechs read less. I think that Czechs are enthusiastic readers and in my opinion this tradition will survive into the future. Of course the economic trend is felt in all kinds of retail and the book market cannot be taken out from this trend. So I wouldn’t say that we read less but of course we save money more than we used to in the past years.”

The financial crisis has definitely affected the Czech book market in one way. Last year’s bestselling title is a book on the economic crisis written by the Czech economist Tomáš Sedláček. It has sold more than 33,000 copies, leaving behind the world best-selling authors such as Paolo Coelho or Daniel Brown.