Expatica news

Belgian bookworms crazy for comic books

23 March 2005

BRUSSELS – Almost two-thirds of the books bought in Belgium are comic books, according to a study published on Wednesday.

La Derniere Heure reported that Wallonia’s culture minister Fadila Laanan had commissioned a survey into the state of reading in the French-speaking community. 

It found EUR 232 million was being spent on books in French, with 62 percent on ‘bande dessine’ tales about Tintin and other comic characters.

Publishing houses in Wallonia and Brussels raked in EUR 227 million in 2003 alone.

Just 9 percent of the sales were of books for young people and 8 percent were school books.

In total, the industry generates 270 direct jobs, a figure which should be tripled to reflect the actual number of workers reliant on the book business.

“Unlike what is happening in the record business, we have never bought so many books in the French-speaking community,” reported the authors of the study.

“Over the last five years, French language books in Belgium have seen an increase of 17 percent, around almost 3 percent a year: twice the general increase in retail prices or household consumption.”

The year 2003 was a good one, with growth of 4.7 percent and exports to France – Belgium’s number one overseas book market – were also on the up.

However, the report highlighted that there are clouds on the horizon.

The authors think too many books are being produced and that Belgian publishing houses are losing their share of the book market.

Five years ago, they made up a third of the country’s market, but nowadays share just 28 percent.

The authors said libraries had increasingly limited budgets.

They want to see more invested in encouraging the promotion of books through education and in the media or tax breaks for the industry.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news