Digital sales surging in Spain

Digital sales surging in Spain

The Spanish book trade is preparing for unexpectedly fast growth in digital sales, Liber, the international book fair for the Spanish speaking world has been told.

Iría Álvarez, trade manager at Santillana, one of Spain’s largest publishers, told delegates at the show in Madrid yesterday (6th October): “With e-books expected to take 22% of the US and 14% of the UK market in 2015, the transition is a going to be lot more rapid than we thought.”

The arrival of large electronic distributors in Spain such as Amazon and Apple is expected to force Santillana and other Spanish publishers and retailers to adapt rapidly to the digital world. Apart from the Kindle, Amazon has the advantage of low prices and cross-selling. Apple has sold 30 million iPad and and Google’s B2C model is enormously successful worldwide. She said: “The arrival of these big new players in Spain is forcing us to rethink the value of the book”.

However, Ms Álvarez predicted there would be no wholesale abandonment of print sales in Spain. She said: “Rather than ebooks replacing paper books we believe that there is going to be a long period of coexistence.”

In response to these challenges, Santillana have decided to digitalise all the books it owns rights for as well as launch paper and e-books at the same time. “We need to have a presence on all platforms and make as much available as soon as possible if we are to gain new audiences,” she said at the seminar at Madrid's IFEMA conference centre.

Sol Rosenberg, vice-president of development of retailer thecopia.com, painted a broader picture of cultural change in his book fair talk. Mr Rosenberg’s company stressed how his company has spent $22 million on a system promoting book sales alongside social networking, potentially important in sociable Spain. He said: “Like coffee tables in bookshops we enable users to create groups around issues related to books, and this is wonderful to drive sales."

He added: “The difference between thecopia.com and Amazon is that we seek to promote other people’s brands. Students at the University of Kansas, for example, can go to their university website and use our product to see specific comments that others have made about academic books at their institution. These additional notes could even be sold in the form of an enriched book."