The book sector closed an “irregular” 2020 with a 26% drop in exports

Textbook turnover, a subsector that represents a third of the sector’s sales, registered a 6.6% drop

The Spanish publishing sector had an uneven development during last year marked by the Covid.19 pandemic, with a 26% drop in exports compared to the previous year, and an increase of 0.8% in the domestic market.

The president of the Spanish publishers, Patrici Tixis, highlighted this Friday during the presentation of the International Book Fair, to be held at Ifema Madrid from October 13 to 15 in Madrid, the need to reinforce the presence in the foreign market to consolidate the growth of the sector.

In this sense, book exports last year suffered a 26% drop in 2020, to 391.75 million euros, compared to those obtained in 2019, 529.96%, according to the Study of Internal Trade of the Book in Spain 2020, prepared by the Federation of Publishers Guilds of Spain (FGEE), with the support of the General Directorate of the Book and Promotion of Reading of the Ministry of Culture and Sports and by CEDRO.

The year 2020 was an irregular year for the book trade. While the domestic market has performed well, the same did not happen with exports, which have been greatly affected by the restrictions established to fight the pandemic. We are fully confident that this will be a temporary situation, given that, in the last decade, especially the publishing sector, within what we call the book sector, has been very dynamic in foreign markets“, has explained.

Of these total figures, 86.3% (323.51 million euros) corresponded to books from the publishing sector, while 13.7% (51.18 million euros) were exports from the graphic arts sector.

In terms of geographical areas, Latin America continues to be the main market for the book sector, with 184 million euros in sales, mainly exports from the publishing sector, followed by the European Union, with turnover figures of 126.6 million euros. , 60.36% corresponding to the publishing sector (75.83 million euros).

If the rest of the European countries are added, including the United Kingdom, this figure rises to 181.5 million euros. 18% of the exports made by the sector correspond to markets on other continents.

Regarding exports by country, Mexico continues to be the main recipient of Spanish publishing products, followed by France and Argentina.

Regarding imports, they stood at 140.91 million euros, which leaves a positive balance of the Spanish trade balance of 250.8 million euros.


Against this, the sales figures in the domestic market registered an increase of 0.8% to reach 2,439.93 million euros.

According to the study, 164.45 million copies were sold on paper last year, 1.4% more than in 2018, and 13.27 million downloads of digital copies, 4.24% more than in the year previous.

Regarding the titles published, the effects of confinement and the pandemic have been noticed since 9.4% fewer titles were published, mainly in paper format, whose decrease was 16.5%, to 50,698. On the contrary, the number of titles in digital format increased by 10.6%, reaching 23,891 digital titles.

“The data on the increase in sales or the production of digital titles show the adaptability of the sector that looked for formulas to get books to readers”, said the president of the Federation of Publishers Guilds of Spain.


The increase in turnover took place in almost all the book subsectors, especially in children’s and young people’s literature, which registered a growth of 17.6%, reaching 367 million euros. For its part, Fiction for adults obtained 2.1% more than in 2019, up to 507.23 million euros, increases that also registered novels, poetry and theater.

Non.fiction genres had uneven behavior, while general, practical and religion books increased their turnover compared to the previous year, compared to technical and university science, social sciences and humanities or law and economics, recorded decreases compared to 2019.

In the case of textbooks, a subsector that represents a third of the sector’s sales, registered a fall of 6.6%, reflecting the uncertainty experienced at the beginning of the 2020.2021 academic year.

Regarding digital book sales, they increased by 5.9% compared to 2019, reaching 126.19 million euros. This figure continues to represent around 5% of the total turnover of the sector. The number of titles registered an increase of 10.6%, with a total of 23,891 titles, which means continuing to increase the offer of digital titles, which stood at 186,695 titles.

In terms of turnover by genre, non.fiction books, especially law and economics degrees, account for 60% of turnover. In addition, they have registered an increase of 21.6%. Children’s and youth literature books also had a 15% increase in turnover.

However, and unlike the sales of books in paper format, adult fiction titles had a drop in sales in digital format of 7.5%. Digital textbooks also suffered a 21.7% drop. In this case, this reflected the opening made by many publishers to facilitate access to digital content during past courses.

By Editor

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