Monday, September 26

Book sales grow 25% and mark a “historical figure” in 2021

“Nobody expected it and we didn’t find an explanation for him either.” This is how Álvaro Manso defines what happened in bookstores in 2021. According to the spokesperson for the Spanish Confederation of the Booksellers Guild and Associations (CEGAL) to, book sales will add a 25% growth compared to the year of lockdown and closure, and a 20% increase compared to 2019. This past year saw the best data for the book industry since it bottomed out in 2013, following the ravages caused by the financial crisis. “It’s a historic figure, a blessing,” Manso says of the 2021 record.

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And they did not expect it because, as indicated by the CEGAL spokesperson, the 2020 Christmas campaign saved the furniture for businesses that were forced to close more than three months by sanitary protocol. It was a very good end of the year and the bookstores doubted that they would be able to maintain that sales rate. “But it has not stopped since then and this Christmas campaign is also being very good,” adds Manso, owner of the Luz y Vida bookstore in Burgos.

The confinement did not bring only hours of confinement and reading, the audiovisual cultural consumption in streaming soared, according to the data that the SGAE has just made public: the percentage of the population that saw content in this way grew to 52.4%. The new cultural mores were centered at home and on the screens, and there were enough elements to herald a slowdown in book sales.

How has it been possible? Manso indicates a very important data in growth: traditionally, 14 years are the critical age in which child readers, when they become adolescents, abandon books, but he assures that shops have seen the youngest customer grow thanks to the comics sector and, above all, the manga. Their growth rates in the genre reach almost 70%. “The publishers have been very fast and have incorporated many titles oriented to this profile into their catalogs and bookstores have also incorporated them”, says Álvaro Manso.

More young readers

“That is the best news of the year: we have noticed a very important rejuvenation of our clientele, who read narratives as well as comics. They are 19 or 20-year-old kids. I wonder where they used to buy, perhaps in large stores,” says the bookseller. Paco Goyanes, from Cálamo (Zaragoza). He says that the key to the good result this year has been in the support of residents for local commerce. “The bookstores are the flagship of the neighborhood’s commerce,” adds Goyanes. His conclusion is optimistic, he assures that the bookstores are in the best condition that he has remembered for years.

That is the best news of the year, we have noticed a very important rejuvenation of our clientele

Cálamo Library

Patrici Tixis, president of the Federation of Publishers Guilds (FGEE) and the Gremi d’Editors de Catalunya, is one of the most influential people in the sector at this time and recognizes various reasons as the cause of the results. On the one hand, local bookstores “are the key.” It indicates that out of every 100 books that are sold, seven are electronic, 25 are on digital platforms and the rest, 68 in bookstores. “It has also been a good year in the publishing harvest, with titles that have made the business grow. In general, the sector has grown one notch. We will be around an increase of 20%”, indicates Tixis.

The president of the FGEE points out a phenomenon that has contributed to the accounts: the sale of comics has grown by over 70%. “It is the first time that the Japanese comic [manga] It overtakes the North American comic in sales. And I think it is an international trend. This is important because it speaks of an important arrival of new readers, “says Tixis. He believes that people have continued to enjoy reading as they did during confinement. According to a survey by Conecta Research & Consulting carried out in 2020, 4% of Spaniards They found reading a pleasure: Before confinement, frequent readers were 50%, and it rose to 54% with confinement.

An idyll that matures

At the Alberti bookstore (Madrid), Lola Larumbe explains that the Book Fair has been decisive. “This year the last semester has been very good,” he says. He also says that something has remained of the “crush” that happened that May 2020, when readers started shopping in bookstores. “A much clearer future opens up for bookstores. Let’s see if we keep readers dazzled,” says Larumbe. It refers to the speed they have gained in attention and the relationship they have established with readers from the screens, for example.

Digital dissemination was decisive last year and in 2021 it has been maintained, because there is still a lot of room to conquer in Spain, a country where just over 51% of the population declares themselves not to read. In February the FGEE will publish the annual report of the reading Barometer and then it will be verified if the fans have been maintained after the confinement. “People do not stop coming and buying books. The only thing that can spoil the end of the year is the increase in infections,” warns Larumbe.

Digital broadcasting was decisive in Spain, a country where just over 51% of the population declares themselves not to read

In Calders (Barcelona), Isabel Sucunza acknowledges that they have returned to the figures of their best year since 2013, which was 2019. The phone call is interrupted several times and it is confirmed that the business is working. “I don’t know if it is due to local commerce, because we have a young audience,” he says. The bookstore also warns about the effects of the sale on the new sanitary measures.

From the confinement until now, says Cristina Sanmamed, bookseller at La Puerta de Tannhäuser (Plasencia), people have continued reading. In fact, not even the paper crisis for certain special editions that publishers were planning to publish has not slowed down purchases. “They have not lost the habit and we continue doing the same as always. Our clients have expanded thanks to social networks. We have reached people from all over Extremadura,” says the bookseller that has just opened a new headquarters in Cáceres. This inauguration is already a sign that commerce is experiencing a golden moment. “People asked us for it and we have worked like beasts to bring the bookstores forward, but we have exceeded the forecast we had. The business is going very well, but we cannot relax”, and the bookstore celebrates it.