Report: Spanish-Language Subscription Digital Sales Gain in Revenues

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As ebook sales continue to grow in Spanish-language markets, the new report from the Dosdoce and Bookwire.es shows digital subscription services are also gaining consumer traction.

Out today (March 26) from Dosdoce.com, the Fifth Bookwire.es Report on the evolution of the digital market in Spain and Latin America indicates a growing sales presence for subscription platforms such as Scribd, Nubico, 24Symbols, and Storytel. Image:

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Ebook Sales Increasing by Half Annually
Released to international news media today (March 26), the Fifth Bookwire.es Report (PDF) for 2019 from Javier Celaya’s Dosdoce.com consultancy sees another increase in sales of more than 50 percent over the previous year for ebooks. This establishes a seemingly reliable pattern of sales growth for the format in Spain and Latin America of jumps by half annually.

The new report is for 2018 figures and follows closely the audiobook-specific study results released on March 4 by Dosdoce. Our report on that information is here.

By comparison to data cited by more than 400 publishers in Latin America and Spain, the Dosdoce report is seeing an increase of 57 percent in ebook sales over 2017. That year, in turn, saw a 52-percent jump over 2016.

Dosdoce develops its picture of the Spanish-language ebooks market in cooperation with the German-based ebook distributor Bookwire.es, for which Celaya has served as managing director.

And the top-line result of the new study shows subscription sales playing a progressively important role in the revenue structure of the aggregate market defined by the use of Spanish.

“Although unit download sales via online platforms such as Amazon, Apple and Kobo, among others, continue to be the most relevant sales channels (80 percent) for Spanish and Latin American publishers,” the study’s narrative says, “one of the main conclusions of the 2018 report suggests that sales via subscription platforms like Scribd, Nubico, 24Symbols, and Storytel, are becoming increasingly significant for publishers, reaching a total of 17 percent of digital sales, in comparison with 7 percent in 2017, and no more than 5 percent in 2016.”

Javier Celaya

The citation of a 2018 jump of 10 percent for the share of sales held by subscription platforms follows a first-time cooperative effort in which those leading digital platforms shared their user data to produce an infographic (see below), Profile of the Spanish Digital Reader.

“According to the infographic,” the report tells us, “there are more female than male digital readers (57 percent versus 43 percent), most of whom fall within the 25 to 45 age range. The urban areas with most male and female digital readers are Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Malaga, Zaragoza, and Bilbao.”

Of special interest from that selection of data: digital readers are reading almost twice as much as their print-preference brothers and sisters: “Digital booklovers are avid readers, with an average of 20 digital books a year, almost doubling print books (at an average of about 11.6, according to the most recent Barometer of Book Reading and Purchasing Habits. The genres of preference are fiction (romance and erotic novel, followed by suspense, ‘whodunits’ and thrillers) and nonfiction (self-help and personal development) as well as children’s and young adult literature.”

Mexico Holds Lead in Digital Content Consumption

Image: Dosdoce.com

Image: Dosdoce.com

Returning to the principal conclusions of the new overall digital report, several other bullets stand out, quoting from the text provided to the news media:

  • Similarly to previous years, close to 50 percent of digital sales were generated outside Spain. Although 47 percent of digital sales occurred outside Spain in 2017, there has been a 2-percent  increase in export figures, reaching a 49-percent increase in sales figures.
  • As occurred in 2015, 2016, and 2017, Mexico boasts the highest sales figures of digital content published by Spanish publishers (15 percent) in 2018, whereas the rest of ebook sales (20 percent) are shared among other countries in the region (Argentina, Colombia, Chile, etc.).
  • “The US Latin American market has continued to experience an increase in growth and has almost generated a 10-percent increase in digital sales, as has the European market, which represents a total of 5 percent of digital exports.
  • Sixty percent of digital book sales among Spanish publishers were generally within €4.99 to €9.99 price range (US$5.65 to $11.31).
  • Prices have decreased in Spain and increased in Latin America, dropping by 60 euro cents in 2018 in Spain and jumping 15 euro cents’ equivalent in Latin America. Nevertheless, the average price of an ebook sold by a Latin American publisher in 2018 increased to €7.02 (US$7.95) including VAT, as opposed to €8.96 (US$10.15) including VAT in 2016. Here, Celaya references Rüdiger Wischenbart’s European Ebook Barometeron which we reported in October.
Independent Publishers Gaining in Digital Balance

Image: Dosdoce.com

With a repeat of some of the material from the earlier reported audiobook analysis, Celaya’s Dosdoce-Bookwire.es development of the market picture now creates its message about business models and platforms.

Image: Lector Digital

“In regards to business models,” the text reads, “publishers currently selling audiobooks claim that subscription platforms such as Storytel, Audible, and Kobo, among others, have become the main audiobook sales channels for Spanish audiobooks.

“They are followed by unit sale channels such as Google Play or iTunes and subsequently by streaming platforms such as Spotify, Deezer and the like. In contrast to English-speaking markets, audiobook sales to libraries have barely been exploited as a sales channel in Spanish markets, making it the fourth channel to be borne in mind.”

Lastly, it’s interesting to note that Dosdoce is talking about independent publishers “achieving a more balanced distribution of digital sales during the last five years via the principal international channels (Amazon and Apple). ” In other words,” the report reads, “independent publishers do not exclusively depend on one channel to reach their readers.

“According to the figures published in the preview to the Bookwire report, between 39 and 53 percent of digital sales by independent Spanish and Latin American publishers are generated via Amazon, whereas 28 to 32 percent are prompted by Apple. Remaining digital sales are distributed among the remaining channels (Casa del Libro, Gandhi, Kobo, FNAC, etc.).”

The chart below indicates genre sales by channel and reveal an interesting distinction for Amazon: “The following chart shows how romance novels are in high demand in stores such as Apple and Kobo, whereas nonfiction categories like philosophy, religion and science are far more popular on Amazon.”


More from Publishing Perspectives on Spain’s market is here, on Latin America is here, on audiobooks is here, on ebooks is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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