Leserskring: The Story of South Africa’s Most Successful Commercial Book Club

Abstract

Nasionale Pers established a mail-order book club based on the Bertelsmann model called Leserskring in 1980. The club became incredibly successful and by 1985 it had a membership of 250,000. However, technology and a changing South African landscape brought challenges to the club. In 2016, Naspers announced that the iconic book club’s doors would be shut for good. Some believe that the club experienced its success due to the culture of reading and publishing that had developed among mostly white South Africans during the apartheid period, and that with democratisation the niche it once held slowly started to disappear.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Kerneels Breytenbach, ‘Die nuwe man by Tafelberg’, Die Beeld, May [1], Nasionale Afrikaanse Letterkundige Museum en Navorsingsentrum.

  2. 2.

    Scholtz in Lizette Rabe,’n Konstante revolusie: Naspers, Media24 en oorgange (Kaapstad, Suid-Afrika: Tafelberg, [2], 27.

  3. 3.

    C. F. J Muller, Sonop in die Suide: geboorte en groei van die Nasionale Pers 1915–1948, I (Kaapstad: Nasionale Boekhandel, [3], 331.

  4. 4.

    W. D Beukes, Oor grense heen: op pad na ʼn Nasionale Pers, 1948–1990 (Kaapstad: Nasionale Boekhandel, [4], 491.

  5. 5.

    ‘Tafelberg Geskiedenis’ (Tafelberg-Uitgewers, n.d.), Nasionale Afrikaanse Letterkundige Museum en Navorsingsentrum.

  6. 6.

    Oor grense heen, 491.

  7. 7.

    Beukes, 491.

  8. 8.

    Beukes, 492.

  9. 9.

    Beukes, 492.

  10. 10.

    Beukes, 494–495.

  11. 11.

    Sethunya Tshepho Mosime, ‘Naspers Media Group : Ethnic Past and Global Present. Media Firms, Class and Ethnic Identities during the Age of Convergence and Expansion—the Case of Naspers in the First Decade of the 21st Century’, Global Media Journal - African Edition 8, no. 1 (1 January [5]: 71).

  12. 12.

    Beukes, Oor grense heen, 495.

  13. 13.

    Beukes, 495.

  14. 14.

    Beukes, 495.

  15. 15.

    Beukes, 496.

  16. 16.

    Beukes, 496.

  17. 17.

    Beukes, 496.

  18. 18.

    Beukes, 497.

  19. 19.

    Beukes, 497.

  20. 20.

    Beukes, 497.

  21. 21.

    ‘Leserskring Spring Goed Weg’, Die Beeld, 26 September 1980 [6], 4, Instituut vir eietydse geskiedenis.

  22. 22.

    Beukes, Oor grense heen, 497; ‘Leserskring Spring Goed Weg’, 4.

  23. 23.

    ‘Leserskring Spring Goed Weg’, 4.

  24. 24.

    ‘Leserskring Spring Goed Weg’, 4.

  25. 25.

    ‘Leserskring Sorg Vir Oud En Jonk: Die Heel Bestes Vir Elke Leser’, Die Beeld, 15 August 1980, 6, Instituut vir eietydse geskiedenis.

  26. 26.

    ‘Leserskring Sorg Vir Oud En Jonk: Die Heel Bestes Vir Elke Leser’, 6.

  27. 27.

    ‘Leserskring Sorg Vir Oud En Jonk: Die Heel Bestes Vir Elke Leser’, 6.

  28. 28.

    ‘Leserskring Sorg Vir Oud En Jonk: Die Heel Bestes Vir Elke Leser’, 6.

  29. 29.

    ‘Leserskring’, Die Beeld, 6 August [7, 8], 4, Instituut vir eietydse geskiedenis.

  30. 30.

    ‘Leserskring’, 4.

  31. 31.

    ‘Leserskring’, 4.

  32. 32.

    ‘Leserskring Sorg Vir Oud En Jonk: Die Heel Bestes Vir Elke Leser’.

  33. 33.

    ‘Leserskring Sorg Vir Oud En Jonk: Die Heel Bestes Vir Elke Leser’, 6.

  34. 34.

    ‘Nuwe Engelse Boekklub: Leserskring Kry Maat’, Die Burger, 7 August [9], 8, Instituut vir eietydse geskiedenis.

  35. 35.

    ‘Nuwe Engelse Boekklub: Leserskring Kry Maat’, 8.

  36. 36.

    ‘Rondom Die Letterkunde: Die Afrikaner Lees, Bewys Leserskring’, Die Burger, 25 November [10], 21, Instituut vir eietydse geskiedenis.

  37. 37.

    Mike Kantey, ‘Publishing in South Africa’, Africa Bibliography 1989 (March [11]: xvi, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266673100005183.

  38. 38.

    ‘Taal Vlam Voort by Leserskring’, Die Volksblad, 29 August [12], 2.

  39. 39.

    ‘Taal Vlam Voort by Leserskring’, 2.

  40. 40.

    ‘Taal Vlam Voort by Leserskring’, 2.

  41. 41.

    ‘Leisure Books Goes Online, Offers to Non-Members’, April [13], https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/394/46521.html.

  42. 42.

    ‘SA’s Biggest Book Club Now Open for All’, Litnet Argief, [14], https://argief.litnet.co.za/article.php?news_id=85332.

  43. 43.

    ‘Leserskring Launches Afrikaans Romance Ebook Club’, Good Housekeeping (blog), 26 September [15], https://www.goodhousekeeping.co.za/afrikaans-leserskring-stel-nuwe-e-boekklub-vir-liefdesverhale-bekend/.

  44. 44.

    ‘Leserskring Launches Afrikaans Romance Ebook Club’.

  45. 45.

    Galloway and Venter in H. P. Van Coller, Perspektief & profiel:’n Afrikaanse literatuurgeskiedenis. Deel 3, Tweede uitgawe. (Pretoria: Van Schaik, [16], 524–525.

  46. 46.

    Adele Changuion, ‘Goeie Nuus Vir Leserskring-Boekwurms’, Maroela Media, 23 June [17], https://maroelamedia.co.za/goeiegoed/goeie-nuus/goeie-nuus-vir-leserskring-boekwurms/.

  47. 47.

    Martin Welz, ‘Making It Past the Post’, Noseweek [18], https://www.noseweek.co.za/article/3616/Making-it-past-the-post.

  48. 48.

    Changuion, ‘Goeie Nuus Vir Leserskring-Boekwurms’.

  49. 49.

    Changuion.

  50. 50.

    ‘Leisure Books and Leserskring Reopen’, My Faith Magazine, September [19], http://www.myfaithmag.com/article?id = 302.

  51. 51.

    ‘Judging the book’, Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig 38, no. 1 1 June [20]: 147.

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Correspondence to Jana Klingenberg.

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Klingenberg, J. Leserskring: The Story of South Africa’s Most Successful Commercial Book Club. Pub Res Q 36, 570–580 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12109-020-09762-w

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Keywords

  • Leserskring/Leisure Books
  • Commercial book club
  • Nasionale Pers/Naspers
  • South Africa