While according to the latest statistics, Estonians still love to read, fewer books are published now compared with 16 years ago, as library services and the growth in popularity of e-readers vie for attention.
In 2004, around 4,000 books were published in Estonia. By last year, however, the number had decreased by about 10 percent to around 3,600. However,print run circulation has decreased even more, over 40 percent, during that time, ERR's culture portal reports.
Sixteen years ago, the total number of printed editions approached six million copies for the year, whereas the figure for 2019 was only 3.3 million. Since the early 1990s, when more than ten million books and brochures were printed annually, the decline has been particularly acute.
However, this need not mean that Estonians read less than they used to. A recent Eurostat survey looked at 15 European countries and found that Estonia was home to one of the largest proportions of bookworms, with 15 percent of Estonian respondents listing reading as one of their main hobbies.
Head of the collections development department of the National Library (Eesti Rahvusraamatukogu) Kairi Felt says that people are in fact being more discerning when deciding what book to pick up next, still less buy.
"Most likely, the majority of readers think carefully about which book they might purchase for their bookshelf next. People are also regularly using library services, which offer more and more convenient and user-friendly solutions for borrowing books," Felt said.
In addition, the selection of Estonian-language e-publications for e-readers such as Kindle continues to grow. For example, over 1,200 e-books in several different formats (epub, pdf, etc.) were published in the Estonian language last year.
Editor: Roberta Vaino