Spanish Book Sector

An Expert's View about Sales in Spain

Last updated: 25 Feb 2011

Spanish Market Summary on Books:

The Spanish book sector closed 2009 with a total turnover of USD 4.3 billion which represents a decrease of 2.4 percent from 2008. The only categories that did not decrease in terms of turnover and editorial production include technical training, social sciences, humanities, and children’s education. Companies based in Madrid and Barcelona represent 93 percent of the total sales turnover. The number of copies sold in 2009 is reported at 240 million, a drop of 1.9 percent over 2008. The main sales periods for members of the FGEE (Federación de Gremios de Editores de España), the largest importers association representing Spanish publishers, are in October when the LIBER book fair takes place and the Christmas season begins.

Language is an important consideration when entering the Spanish market as Spaniards are not as proficient in English as in many other European countries. Although the emphasis on improving the level of English as a foreign language has increased, the English language text books segment is dominated by British publishing firms. Burlington Books, the Cambridge Secondary English course, Oxford Exchange and Longman are the most frequently used, as the British Council (a UK school organization operating in Spain) and its partners have been extremely active in Spain for many years. Educational software such as Baby Einstein, Magic English, Music for Babies and So Smart is becoming more popular.

Total editorial production in Spain for 2009 was 76,213 titles, an increase of 4.4 percent from 2008. However the number of copies produced fell by 10.2 percent, as did the average circulation (4,328) which was 707 copies less per title from 2008. First and new editions account for 55.7 percent of total editorial production, while reproductions account for 44.3 percent. Editorial production in the sectors of young adult, educational books not for college use, technical books and scientific books all fell as well. However, comic books rose in editorial production even though the sales turnover has continued to fall since 2005 (19.7 percent). Other subject areas that have not fallen in sales since 2008 are novels, poetry, and theater. Book sales via internet and mail order have also shown negative results.

Most sales are done through bookshops and bookstores which account for 48 percent of sales. Companies, institutions (schools and academies), libraries, and large supermarket chains have all increased in importance as sales channels in 2009.

Another non-traditional sector of the market includes pocket books. The number of pocket books sold in 2009 dropped 10.5 percent from 2008 with an average price of USD 9.72. The total number of copies sold was 26 million representing 11 percent of all copies sold in the market. Total sales for 2009 were also down 8 percent making total turnover slightly less than USD 251 million.

There are no custom duties levied for hard copies books imported into Spain. The only tax applied is a 4 percent VAT (Value Added Tax), known as IVA (Impuesto Valor Anadido), which applies to books and books containing material on CD-ROM. The standard VAT for consumer goods is 16 percent with the importer paying this tax on top of the CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight) value.

Entering the Spanish market may require adapting some U.S. products to local standards and content, particularly for English as a Foreign Language books. Partnering with a local, major player or establishing an in-country presence is highly desirable.

Read the full market research report

Posted: 18 February 2011, last updated 25 February 2011

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