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Slow package database

Dear list...

what has always annoyed me is now ready to be asked on this list. :)
It appears like apt-get/aptitude/dpkg dealing with the list/database of 
installed packages is terribly slow at times. I have roughly 1800 packages 
installed and it sometimes takes 20-30 seconds to install a single 
package. On a freshly installed system that's just a matter of seconds. 
Since this is one of my two development workstations I uninstall and 
install a lot of packages and dist-upgrade to unstable/experimental daily. 
So the package database is in permanent flux. What might be the cause? Is 
there some fragmentation effect? This is a common effect on a few Debian 
systems here so I assume I'm not alone with it. Has anyone else observed 
that? Is there a way to optimize it?

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