Analysis of the Publishing Market in Spain

The external market and the internal market behaved differently. While sales outside our borders fell by 26% in 2020, to 374.6 million euros, turnover in the domestic market increased by 0.8%, to 2,439.93 million euros.


  • “Events like LIBER are an unbeatable opportunity to recover our export position that had been very dynamic in the last decade and strengthen the growth experienced in the domestic market,” explains Patrici Tixis, president of the Federation of Publishers’ Guilds of Spain.
  • Editorial production in 2020 reached 74,589 titles (50,698 on paper and 23,891 on digital). The average print run was reduced by 5.4%. It stood at 3,576 copies per title. The average price of paper securities stood at 14.02 euros.
  • The digital book increased its turnover by 5.9%, to 126.19 million euros, which represents 5.17% of the total sales of the sector.
  • In the opinion of Patrici Tixis, “we must continue working together with the Government and the different Administrations and Political Parties, to build the necessary Pact for Books and Reading. We must lay the foundations for increasing the readership base, improving the social valuation of the book, reading, as well as respect for intellectual property.”


The Spanish publishing sector has set its sights on the recovery of the foreign market to consolidate and reinforce the growth experienced in the internal market. The restrictions derived from the COVID-19 pandemic meant a brake on the increase in exports from the book sector, which registered a fall of 26% in 2020, to 391.75 million euros, with respect to those obtained in 2019, 529.96%.

Evolution of the export of the book sector 2011-2020

“The year 2020 was an irregular year for the book trade. While the internal market has performed well, the same did not happen with exports that have been very conditioned by the restrictions established to fight the pandemic. We have every confidence that this will be a conjunctural 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. Now, once the situation seems to stabilize, it is time to recover our export position in order to consolidate the growth experienced in the internal market. Events like LIBER are an unbeatable opportunity to achieve this goal,”said Patrici Tixis, president of the Federation of Publishers’ Guilds of Spain, at the presentation of this year’s edition of the LIBER International Book Fair to be held from October 13 to 15 in Madrid.

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

As for the geographical areas to which these exports were directed, Ibero-America remains the main market of the book sector, with 184 million euros of sales, mainly exports from the publishing sector. Behind him is the European Union which, in 2020, reached turnover figures of 126.6 million euros, 60.36% corresponding to the publishing sector, 75.83 million euros. If we add the rest of the European countries, including the United Kingdom, the figure increases to 181.5 million euros. 18% of the exports made by the sector correspond to markets on other continents. In terms of exports by country, Mexico continues to be the main recipient of Spanish publishing products, followed by France and Argentina.

Regarding imports, in 2020, they stood at 140.91 million euros, which leaves a positive balance of the Spanish trade balance of 250.8 million euros.

The internal market improves its figures

In contrast to what happened in the foreign market, sales figures in the domestic market registered an increase of 0.8% to reach 2,439.93 million euros. These figures show that, during the pandemic, books and reading have been very present in the lives of Spaniards. This is reflected in the Study of Internal Book Trade in Spain 2020.

This study, prepared by the Federation of Publishers’ Guilds of Spain, with the support of the General Directorate of Books and Promotion of Reading of the Ministry of Culture and Sport and CEDRO, shows that, in 2020, 164.45 million copies were sold on paper, 1.4% more than in 2018, and 13.27 million downloads of digital copies, 4.24% more than in the previous year. As for the titles published, the effects of the 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 average price of paper securities stood at 14.02 euros.

“The data on the increase in sales or the production of digital titles show the adaptability of the sector that sought formulas to get the books to readers,” says Patrici Tixis, president of the Federation of Publishers’ Guilds of Spain and adds, “however, we must continue working together with the Government and the different Administrations and Political Parties to build the necessary Pact for The Book and Reading for that the improvement registered in the reading habit is not something conjunctural, but that the reader base in the country can be maintained and increased. In addition, we must lay the foundations for improving the social valuation of books, reading, as well as respect for intellectual property.”

The increase in turnover occurred in almost all subsectors of the book, especially in children’s and young people’s literature, which registered a growth of 17.6%, reaching 367 million euros. Adult Fiction also obtained 2.1% more than in 2019, up to 507.23 million euros. Novel, poetry and theatre recorded increases. Non-fiction genres had unequal behaviors, while books of general dissemination, practical and religion increased their turnover compared to the previous year, technical and university scientists, those of social sciences and humanities, as well as those of law and economic sciences, registered decreases compared to 2019.

In the case of textbooks, a subsector that represents a third of the sector’s sales, it registered a fall of 6.6%, reflecting the uncertainty experienced at the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year.

Digital book sales improve

Sales by digital books increased by 5.9% compared to 2019, reaching 126.19 million euros. This figure still represents 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 supply of digital titles that stood at 186,695 titles.

In terms of turnover by genre, non-fiction books, especially law degrees and economic sciences, account for 60% of turnover. In addition, they have registered an increase of 21.6%. Children’s and young adult 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 turnover in digital format of 7.5%. Digital textbooks also suffered a 21.7% drop. In this case, this reflected the openness made by many publishers to facilitate access to digital content during the past courses.


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