Publishing has always been an important industry in Spain, and continues to thrive and expand, benefiting from huge potential markets in the Spanish-speaking regions of the world, especially Latin America, to which it sends over half its exports. Centred on Madrid and Barcelona and employing about 10,000 people, it ranks fifth in the world and third in Europe with approximately 50,000 new publications per year, which range from the smallest pamphlet to multi-volume encyclopedias, and comprise official publications (16+ percent), commercial publications (74 percent), non-profit items (4+ percent) and selfpublished material (4+ percent).
   Nevertheless the industry is not without its problems, some peculiar to the country, and some common to the book trade elsewhere in Europe. Despite the huge number of titles on offer—it is reckoned that there are some 170,000 in print-Spain has the lowest level of readership (50 percent) in Europe. The situation is being remedied partly by expanding and improving the provision of school and public libraries to encourage the habit of reading, and partly by the production of cheaper pocket editions to bring books within reach of a wider public. The impressive quantity of publication also masks a number of more general trends in the industry, not all of them universally welcomed. Much of the increase in production and export comes from fascicules (works published as cumulative serials), kiosk literature and Bibles for Bible Societies. Though titles have increased in number, average print runs have tended to decrease, a trend which is closely linked to another factor increasingly visible in Spain as elsewhere, the "commodification" of the book. Under the combined pressure of the need for profitability and the sheer number of new titles, the shelf-life of books has decreased rapidly, sometimes to as little as three weeks. Of the 50,000 publications in 1996, over 39,000 were first editions, compared with some 8,000 reissues and a mere 1,200 second editions and 350 third editions. This makes it more difficult for publishers to maintain an extensive or high-quality backlist, and for traditional bookshops to function in competition with chains such as Crisol and Fnac, and with outlets such as El Corte Inglés and VIPS. Also obvious is the increasing concentration of the industry both horizontally and vertically. Of the 3,300 publishing houses in Spain, only about 700 publish more than ten books a year, and of these, six or seven large publishing groups account for over 53 percent of commercial production. Takeovers have consolidated this trend in the industry: Santillana has acquired Alfaguara; Planeta has taken over Seix Barral, Espasa Calpe and Destino, though Tusquets resumed independent status in 1998; Siruela was acquired by Anaya, and Lumen by Plaza y Janes, which in turn became part of the Bertelsmann group. Though several publishing houses have welcomed the take-overs as the only means of survival as distinct editorial entities, the smaller independent houses complain of their inability to compete with the groups, who can, for example, offer large advances to popular authors and acquire rights to complete works. These smaller firms feel at a particular disadvantage compared with large vertically integrated communication groups such as PRISA (publishers of El País and owners of Canal +), who publish, promote in their dailies and sell in their bookshop chains. But while the industry is subject to general international trends of this kind, it also responds to the specific interests of the reading public and the needs of speakers of other languages. Novels (Spanish and international), detective fiction, travel literature, humour, biographies, dictionaries, multimedia and CD-ROM products have become increasingly popular, and though 77 percent of new titles are published in Spanish, books are increasingly published in all the other regional languages, especially Catalan (12 percent), Basque (2.5 percent) and Galician (2.5 prcent).
   Further reading
   - Fernández, J. (1995) "Becoming Normal: Cultural Production and Cultural Policy in Catalonia", in H.Graham and J.Labanyi (eds) Spanish Cultural Studies, an Introduction: The Struggle for Modernity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 342–6.
   - Lasagabaster, J.M. (1995) "The Promotion of Cultural Production in Basque", in H.Graham and J.Labanyi (eds) Spanish Cultural Studies, an Introduction: The Struggle for Modernity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 351–5.
   - Toro Santos, X. de (1995) "Negotiating Galician Cultural Identity" in H.Graham and J.Labanyi (eds) Spanish Cultural Studies, an Introduction: The Struggle for Modernity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 346–51 (three very useful articles on the situation in the non-Castilian regions).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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