Spanish book fair looks to e-book growth

Spanish book fair looks to e-book growth

Liber, the 29th International Book Fair for the Spanish-speaking world, starts today [5th October] in Madrid and takes place against the backdrop of the launch of Amazon.es, which publishers hope will lead to greater interest in e-books and e-readers and growth in Spain's marginal e-book market.

Exhibition space is being devoted to digital publishing for the first time, and with the big players in electronic distribution—Google, Amazon and Apple—now operating in Spain, the market for digital books is beginning to grow. A study by the Federación de Gremios de Editores de España (FGEE), the Federation of Spanish Publishers’ Guilds, suggests 75% of Spanish publishers are either selling digital works already, digitising existing content or creating exclusively digital material. It found that by 2012, a quarter of Spain’s 900-plus publishers expect to sell digital versions of more than half their backlist and a third will distribute a higher number of new titles as e-books, principally for tablets and mobile telephones rather than e-readers.

The rise of digital publishing, increasing exports and the arrival of Amazon.es have provided much needed glimmers of light in what has been an otherwise gloomy ride for Spain’s publishing industry. Domestic sales of books fell 7% to €2.9bn in 2010, according to FGEE. However, e-book sales, though small, rose 37.5% to €70.5m, and now account for 2.4% of overall sales.

Economic recovery abroad saw export sales return to their pre-recession levels, according to Federación Española de Cámaras del Libro, the Spanish Federation of Book Chambers, an advocacy, lobbying, negotiating and professional services association. Exports were 3.7% higher at €458m. The European Union (EU), with €269m sales, was the largest market ahead of the USA (€176m), while Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil were the main Latin American markets.

According to the fair organiser, 443 businesses from 21 countries are exhibiting at the show. The FGEE expects 12,000 industry professionals to attend. The Liber Digital section will include representatives from Barnes & Noble; Adobe Ibérica Spain; Pearson Spain & Portugal; and Google Books for Spain and Portugal. Innovative exhibitors within Liber Digital include thecopia.com; 24symbols; Klopotek; produccioneditorial.com; and 36L Books.

Other key themes at the fair include how to protect the intellectual property rights of publishers and authors threatened by piracy of their works.

Meanwhile, Grupo Planeta, Spain’s foremost publishing and media group, has started distributing its entire Spanish language catalogue through Apple España’s iBookstore. E-books from 24 of Planeta’s imprints can now be downloaded via iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and www.itunes.es.