2021 was historically good year for Spanish booksellers

by Lorraine Williamson

The Spanish Booksellers’ Association (CEGAL) has revised upwards its latest forecasts for 2021 and expects to end this ‘historic year’ with an increase of around 20%. 

This is what CEGAL spokesman Álvaro Manso told the Spanish news site Europa Press. Manso stressed this increase was ‘unthinkable’ in other years and that the growth is not due to a ‘weak’ 2020 – despite the closure due to the pandemic – as the figures for the pandemic year had already improved in recent months. 

Growing sales 

On the occasion of Bookshop Day on 11 November, CEGAL provided data on book sales in small and medium-sized bookshops. Up to November, there was an increase of 13% compared to 2020. The forecast for 2021 is a growth of more than 15%.  

Manso explained that by the end of 2020, bookshop regulars were already making more frequent purchases. ‘The question was whether this would also be the case in 2021, and the answer was yes,’ he said. ‘During the year there were already indications of this. 

Book events 

 ‘Book Day, which still faced capacity constraints in most provinces, was historic in terms of sales. There was clearly a lot of interest in buying live. The same was true at most book fairs, and although Madrid did not have the numbers of other years, people were definitely queuing up. They were successful events,’ he acknowledged. 

Cogesa Expats

Situation remains fragile 

Nevertheless, the situation of the independent book trade is still ‘fragile’. According to the latest bookshop map compiled by CEGAL, almost half of the 3,208 registered bookshops have a book turnover of less than €90,000, putting them on the verge of survival. 

Manso explained that there was an increase in the number of bookshops in 2021, especially in big cities, while the growth in 2020 was ‘zero’. ‘2021 shows a modest positive result,: nevertheless, it is good news,’ he stressed. 

Opportunities for 2022 

For 2022, he said, ‘all signs are positive’, due to a reading plan from Culture and an expected increase in spending on library purchases. ‘I find it hard to believe that the growth rates will repeat themselves, there will be a moderation, but the prospects remain good’ said Manso, who also spoke of a moment of ‘opportunity’ for the book trade, with the possibility of ‘retaining the reading population. ‘Now is the time to realise this and now can do it,’ he said, before addressing the current situation of paper shortages due to the supply crisis. 

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