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Book circulation in Latvia lowest in 30 years

In 2020, the number of printed publications issued in Latvia has fallen sharply, according to official statistics compiled by the Latvian National Library (LNB) March 8.

1805 books were published last year, with a total volume of 1,957,369 million copies, respectively 16.34% and 35.23%  less than in 2019, the LNB said.

A similar situation is also observed in periodical publications: 245 newspapers were issued in 2020 (5.71% less than in 2019), with a total of 43,849,469 million copies (–34.61%), and 271 magazines (–14,76%), with a total of 17,733,892 million copies (–28.04%).

Photo: LNB

“The total typography of books and newspapers has reached the lowest point since the restoration of independence. The total marketing of journals has also not returned to the level it was before the global financial crisis and shows a sharp downturn,” said Elza Ungure, LNB researcher.

Analyzing the statistics for 2008-2010, when the global financial crisis was taking place in  comparison with the existing state aid to the publishing industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, the forecasts for the 2021 figures are disappointing: the publishing industry could face even more difficulties this year.

"In Europe and elsewhere in the world, books are perceived as goods of high added value because they contribute to culture, education and other public benefits. At the same time books are goods for which demand is not so high that the sector is sustainable in a market economy, especially this applies to small countries with a small language,” said Ungure.

In recent months, there has been a lot of discussion about the reduced VAT rate of 5% for books and the press. Currently, the reduced VAT rate of 12% is applied to books and the press in Latvia. In Latvia, the reduced VAT rate applied to books among all the Member States of the European Union is the highest, excluding Bulgaria and Denmark, where books are not subject to a reduced VAT rate. In Estonia and Lithuania, the reduced VAT rate is 9%.

 

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