Elena Ramirez, editorial director of Seix Barral and director of international fiction for Planeta, Spain’s largest publisher, observes that the Spanish book industry has adjusted to a new normal after the country’s financial crisis. “The [book] market is not recovering, but the [sales] fall is really less, down 4% at the end of February,” she notes. “The financial crisis has shown that we cannot wait for readers to go to the bookstores. All of us are looking for new ways to let readers know that our books are out there. In some cases, as with YA readers, we are utilizing different types of marketing strategies to try to create a community of readers to let them come together, and we’ve created a way to pull together all the social media platforms.”
Ramirez notes that young adult has been the most resilient category, showing gains even during the hardest time of the financial downturn. More recently, Anna Todd’s After series, published by Planeta, has stormed the country’s bestseller lists, and women’s fiction in general is selling well, as are books on Spanish politics and cookbooks. “Trends like erotica and crime are still big, but not as big as they used to be a year or two years ago,” she notes.
Bookstore closings are a major problem for Spanish publishers, Ramirez notes, and since the government is not supporting them, publishers are looking for ways to help them. She cited an article in a recent El País stating that last year, 912 bookstores closed, while only 226 opened, leaving the country with more than 3,650 independent bookstores.
While the decline in bookstores is a serious problem, the book industry is in a “panic” over piracy, Ramirez says. She reports statistics that show “80% of digital book content is piracy,” but she thinks that it’s probably higher. She says weak laws and the tendency among Spaniards to consider piracy a minor crime has resulted in rampant piracy. To address the problem, Planeta has created a department focused entirely on fighting piracy.