Reading circle

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The reading circle is now a form of subscription in which a selection of magazines is not bought, but rather borrowed or rented for a certain period of time. The delivery cycle is mostly weekly. The largest customer base of the reading circle providers are doctor's offices, hairdressing salons and cafés, in which the magazines are available for the waiting patients and customers.

In their original meaning, the reading circles in the 18th and 19th centuries were associations of people, sometimes as an association , who exchanged books and other writings with one another. They had a resemblance to the reading societies , of which they are sometimes seen as the forerunners.


The origins of the reading circle go back to the 17th century. The so-called village club , a handwritten script that was passed on from household to household in the Lüneburg Heath at the beginning of the 17th century, is regarded as a forerunner . At first, the repeated lending of newspapers was just an additional business for libraries and bookstores . The first documented German reading circle was founded around 1610 in Kitzingen by the postmaster Pankraz Müller. At that time, the postmasters had a monopoly on the purchase of so-called journals . The portfolio to be rented contained handwritten messages from newspapers from Nuremberg , Frankfurt am Main , Vienna , Rome , Venice , The Hague and Cologne . The recipients of this early reading circle in 1614 were a total of 16 people, all of them notables of the place. The rental fee was half a thaler .

In the first reading groups, a member was only allowed to rent a copy for a few hours. So many readers could read the newspapers as up-to-date as possible.

In the Age of Enlightenment there was a general increase in interest in education, and for the first time reading was no longer restricted to a small group of educated people. In the 18th century there were even warnings against a "reading addiction". For many citizens, however, the regular purchase of new books and newspapers was too expensive, so that the idea of ​​joining forces in reading circles became very popular. The reading folder cost only about one twelfth compared to buying the publications individually.

From 1800 the reading circles were mostly a sideline for bookshops and libraries . It was not until 1850 that independent commercial reading circles emerged. But at the end of the 19th century there were still around 1,000 ancillary businesses out of around 1,200 circles in the German Empire. The publications also no longer had to be passed on by the messenger. The reading circles and reading societies gave numerous people access to education and information.

In May 1908 the German reading circle providers in Leipzig merged to form the Association of Owners of German Reading Circles . The aim was to establish uniform guidelines for sales and advertising . The portfolios contained between 19 and 45 different titles, depending on requirements and price.

While the maximum rental period was up to 26 weeks after the Second World War , since the 1980s six and later only four “reading classes” were common. This reduction was due to the fact that hardly anyone was interested in information up to six months old. The 1980s also saw the introduction of flexible reading programs (also known as “wish folders”). For the first time, customers were able to put together their magazines themselves from a given selection. Due to the logistical effort, between five and six magazines have to be picked up per week.

Until the 1960s, the reading circle was one of the most important media providers in the Federal Republic. With the advent of private television , a powerful competitor emerged. In the meantime, the medium of “reading circles” also has to face competition from the Internet . According to the Association of German Reading Circles, despite this competition, the number of reading folders and sales in the industry are stable to slightly increasing.

Reading circles in this form only exist in German-speaking countries to this day.

Reading circle today

In 2017 there were around 160 independent reading circle companies in Germany that reached 12.61 million readers per week (reach according to media analysis). Over 100 of them belonged to the Association of German Reading Circles .

The principle of the reading circle is to rent a compilation of magazine titles on a weekly basis. The price of a portfolio depends on the composition (see below) and how up-to-date it is . The folders are rented out several times, an average of three times. Approximately 300 titles are currently on sale and 3.3 million copies are sold each week. The providers of reading circles are independent entrepreneurs, not franchisees.

The distributors obtain the magazines directly from the publishers . Fixed purchase without risk of return is advantageous for the publisher , and the reading circle also increases the reach of the publication, which is advantageous for attracting advertisers.

60 percent of the subscribers are traders:

  • Medical practices 21%
  • Hairdressers 16%
  • Gastronomy, hotels etc. 7%
  • Dentists 5%
  • Spa centers, hospitals, old people's homes, etc. 1%
  • Lawyers and notaries 0.5%
  • Car dealerships, petrol stations, etc. 0.5%
  • Other public display locations 9%

The remaining 40 percent are private customers. 42 percent of the readers are male, 58 percent female. The folders are delivered weekly. The titles cost up to 50 percent less in the portfolio than when purchased individually.

According to a current media and consumer analysis, most readers of the Reading Circle live in North Rhine-Westphalia, followed by Baden-Württemberg.

For the IVW examination, the copies of the reading circle are recorded separately and shown in the edition test .

The system

The principle of the reading circle is based on the multiple rental of magazines. The rent is staggered according to the age of the publication. Reading circles receive magazines hot off the press from publishers and provide them with protective covers, which also serve as advertising space. The magazines are then put together into reading folders.

The readers get the magazines delivered to the house as reading folders. Every week they receive new magazines from the reading group, which also picks up the magazines from the previous week. Readers who have ordered older magazine issues will receive these collected magazines. Magazines with the current publication date or two, three and four weeks after publication can be rented.

All reading groups are obliged by the publishers to destroy the magazines or to return them to the publisher at the end of the rental cycle.

Reading Circle Austria

The interests of the reading circles in Austria by the association Association of Austrian Lesezirkel enterprises represented, which was founded on 25 November 1980 ( ZVR 777173536). After Austria joined the European Union in 1995, the cartel of the Austrian reading circles was dissolved. Today the reading circle market is essentially served by four companies:

  • The sales areas of Eastern Austria (Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, northern Burgenland) are supplied by the Morawa reading circle .
  • The reading circle Am Kamin supplies the areas of Styria and southern Burgenland.
  • The areas of Salzburg and Carinthia are supplied by the reading circle Der Rundblick .
  • The Alpenland reading circle supplies customers in Tyrol and the Vorarlberg reading circle supplies the state of Vorarlberg.

In Austria it is possible to place additional buckets and cover advertising both regionally and throughout Austria. With 821,000 weekly users and a reach of 11.3, the Austrian reading circle is at the top of the Austrian print media.

Digital reading circle

The reading circle has been digitized in recent years. In addition to the classic format, there are now versions that provide titles via smartphones and tablets.

Advertising media reading circle

The reading circle offers various possibilities as an advertising medium. A big advantage here is the regional availability and (depending on the advertising material) also splitting according to public displays and private households. The cover pages are used for advertisements. There is also the option of additional advertising supplements.


  • Reinhard Mundhenke, Marita Teuber: The publishing clerk. Professional expertise for business people in newspaper, magazine and book publishers . 8th completely revised edition. Societätsverlag, Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-7973-0676-8 .
  • Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann , Winfried Schulz , Jürgen Wilke (eds.): Journalism, mass communication . Updated, completely revised new edition 1994, 7th edition. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-596-12260-0 ( Fischer-Taschenbücher - Fischer-Lexikon 12260).
  • Peter Brummund: Structure and organization of press sales: sales forms, sales aids and sales channels in the sales organization of newspaper and magazine publishers. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2006, ISBN 978-3-598-11449-6 , chap. 9: Reading Circle - The rental of magazines , pp. 427–452; limited preview in Google Book search.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Association of German Reading Circle eV Accessed on May 13, 2016 .
  2. Reading circle readers in Germany. Retrieved July 30, 2018 .

Web links