Spanish bookshops suffered an overall 6.2% drop in the value of book sales in 2010, a survey for its national association has found.
As the Madrid book fair Liber wraps up today (7th October), the decline found by consultants BCF marked a reversal in fortunes after a strong recovery that bucked Spain's deep economic crisis in 2009.
Average book sales slid from €630,001 (£544,359) in 2009 to €590,952 in a representative survey of 618 booksellers with individual annual sales above €150,000.
The biggest percentage decline in average sales (-15.6%) was among the 38 largest stores with annual turnovers each greater than €1.5 million. Other bookshops suffered only slight falls on average. There was a 7% drop to €703,625 in general sales per seller, meaning that books performed slightly better than other ítems combined.
The 2010 tally was below the €599,335 book sales recorded in 2007, so bookshops have lost ground since the first rumblings of the crisis, once inflation is taken into account.
Books comprised 83.1% of sales in 2010, of which 72.1% were general titles and 27.9% school and university books. The survey found 90.5% of books were sold in store and only 9.5% through other channels such as the internet and external visits.
The digital revolution is growing, but slowly in shops. Delegates were told 16.5% of shops were sold e-readers last year compared with 15.4% in 2009, while 14.7% sold e-books. Sales of e-readers and e-books were concentrated mainly in larger stores. In general, the smaller the store the less likely it was to sell either.
Only 14 (0.8%) of 1,791 bookshops contacted by BCF for surveys in 2010 had closed their doors during the past 12 months. One reason is that many Spanish bookshops continue to play local cultural roles through author presentations, conferences, storytelling, publishing catalogues and encouraging reading in schools.