During the war, innumerable obstacles were gradually raised for publishers, writers and printers. The first was the obligatory membership of the Kultuurkamer (Verordeningenblad voor het bezette Nederlandsche gebied [Regulations journal for the occupied Dutch territory], 1941, No. 211). Publishers, authors and illustrators had to register no later than 1 April 1942. Most conventional publishers did so; otherwise they could no longer practise their business. They did not always proceed willingly.
‘I was summoned to the department and told that I was not registered at the Kultuurkamer’, Stols claimed in his memoirs: ‘Then I could not get out of officially filling in this application in the presence of the gentlemen and hence “giving myself up”’; and ‘I did not “register”, but was forced to act as described above’. Authors, however, would understand if their publisher did go to the Kultuurkamer. Thus wrote Ab Visser, who refused to register, to Bert Bakker (director of The Hague firm D.A. Daamen): ‘I understand that as a publisher you have to go to the guild, that it is even a moral duty to your staff’.
The Kultuurkamer was divided into several guilds, each covering a specific professional field. A publication ban was imposed on writers who did not register with the Literature Guild. However, writers who did not register and so formally were not permitted to publish, in a number of cases sometimes saw the chance to evade the German measures semi-legally, through publishers antedating their publications.
In this period, most publishers succeeded in supplying the hungry reading public without too many problems in the storeroom. Despite restrictions, business for most publishers actually prospered during the war. For instance, Bakker sold a stock of 5000 copies of a book published in 1923 by D.A. Daamen on the occasion of the silver jubilee of Queen Wilhelmina.
Geert van Oorschot (who then worked at the Amsterdam publisher Querido) related that there was an eager market for reprints, often black market, which were sold for cash to trusted bookshops. Some titles were no longer allowed to be sold.
Stols’ Publisher’s catalogue Spring 1940, adapted in August 1940, displayed a label with the rather tacit text, ‘N.B. This catalogue contains some editions which, due to circumstances, have been withdrawn from circulation’. Nevertheless, his turnover in the years 1941 to 1943 was considerably higher than in previous years; it seemed never to have been so satisfactory. And it was probably even more so because, in addition to the official figures, there was a significant black market of allegedly sold-out or sometimes (as in the case of Bertus Aafjes) unknown to the author, clandestinely reprinted editions (on an ‘undisclosed’ paper stock), that were sold at higher prices. According to Jan Vermeulen (then his employee), Stols received a strong additional taxation claim after the liberation.
However, as the occupation progressed stock became exhausted. The legal production of Dutch publishers plummeted dramatically from 10,000 new titles and reprints in 1938 to 2000 in 1944. Stols’ production of new editions in 1940 was barely 20 books; it rose in 1941 to nearly 50, but in 1943 and 1944 fell again. On 30 April 1942, Stols advertised in the newspaper for the book trade,that of his editions released before 1942, only two copies with a maximum discount of 25 per cent could be ordered at a time. Due to pressure of work, other publishers regularly delayed delivery or refused to take on new orders.
Besides the compulsory membership of the Kultuurkamer there were a number of other restrictive issues such as censorship. Like most publishers, Stols was regularly involved, sometimes at the initiative of the occupation authorities, sometimes on his own initiative. Furthermore, he frequently unashamedly asked advice of F.M. Huebner (for whom he published a booklet in Halcyon series in the early 1930s) who worked at the Sonderreferat für Kulturaustausch in The Hague and subsequently becameadministrator at the Van Lier Art Gallery in Amsterdam. For commercial reasons, the publishers complied with the prescriptions issued by the officials of the Department of Public Information and the Arts without protest. (SvF)