Sharjah Book Fair’s Guest of Honor Spain: ‘Our Roots are Deep and Close’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Stressing that culture is a bridge between nations, Spain opens its guest of honor program at Sharjah International Book Fair.

Patrici Tixis, acting president of the Spanish Federation of Publishers’ Guilds, speaks at the opening ceremony for the 2021 Sharjah International Book Fair in the United Arab Emirates. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

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

Working to Recover from a 26-Percent Drop
Iin the run-up to its turn as guest of honor at Frankfurter Buchmesse in 2022, Spain is now guest of honor at Sharjah International Book Fair, which opened on Wednesday (November 3) under the direction of , chair of the .

As the full range of book fair events goes forward in the United Arab Emirates, the Federation of Publishers’ Guilds of Spain (FGEE) has provided some market context.

Along with the federation, Madrid’s delegation and programming is being led by the Spanish ministry of culture and sport. Noting that the Sharjah fair is “the largest of those book fairs in the Middle East.” The federation’s media messaging revisits the 2019 figures for Sharjah’s fair, which in that year logged 2.3 million visitors with 1,874 publishers from 77 countries encountering a display of 20 million books.

The federation also points out that in 2019, Sharjah was guest of honor at that year’s Liber fair, “which allowed Sharjah to become a commercial reference for Spanish companies in the internationalization process.” The UAE’s delegation in that instance was led by Sharjah’s author-emir, himself, .

Patrici Tixis

On Tuesday (November 2), Patrici Tixis, who is the acting president of the federation, told Sheikh Sultan and the 800 members of the opening ceremony audience—all specially PCR-tested in order to be present—that “It was a great honor” to have had Sharjah as guest of honor, and a chance to hear from the sheikh “how our roots are very deep and very close.

“I said thank you,” Tixis said, “because we are an industry but we need to open windows to the other countries as your country did at that moment in the book fair.”

Tixis stressed, “Culture is the way we have to build a solid bridge” of understanding and respect among nations.

The Spanish communiqué also points to the value of Sharjah’s just-concluded three-day professional program, the Sharjah Publishers’ Conference, in which the federation’s acting president, Patrici Tixis, appeared as a speaker and was a daily, engaged participant. In mentioning the professional program, Madrid’s material highlights the fact that Publishers Conference .

‘A Brake on the Increase in Exports’

Sharjah’s Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi and Ahmed Al Ameri, left, chair of the Sharjah Book Authority, receive Miquel Iceta, Spain’s minister of culture and sports, at Al Badee Palace. Image: WAM

Spread-mitigation efforts in the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis “put a brake on the increase in exports registered in previous years,” the Spanish federation says about its market’s challenges during the medical emergency.

Some key figures about Spain’s market experience:

  • The book sector  suffered a 26-percent drop in 2020
  • Sales diminished to €391.75 million euros (US$452 million) as compared with €529.96 (US$612.17) in 2019
  • Of these total figures, 86.3 percent, or €323.51 (US$373.64), corresponded to books from the publishing sector, while 13.7 percent, or €51.18 million (US$59.11), were exports from the graphics sector
  • In terms of the geographical areas into which these exports were directed, Latin America was the main market for Spain’s book sector, not surprisingly, with €184 million in sales, mainly exports in the publishing sector

The next region most prominently in play was the European Union which, in 2020, reached turnover figures of €126.6 million (US$146.3 million), 60.36 percent corresponding to the publishing sector, a total €75.83 million (US$87.60).

  • Adding the rest of the European Union countries and the United Kingdom, the figure rises to €181.5 million (US$209.7 million).
  • Eighteen percent of the sector’s exports corresponded to markets in other continents
  • Exports to Asia amounted to €1.6 million (US$1.8 million)

In terms of exports by country, Mexico continues to be the main recipient of Spanish publishing products, followed by France and Argentina.

Sharjah International Book Fair, with Guest of Honor Spain, continues its run through November  13.

Another guest of honor heard from: The Canadian stand at Sharjah International Book Fair has a visit from Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi. Canada was guest of honor at Frankfurter Buchmesse in October. Image: WAM

More from Publishing Perspectives on developments in Sharjah is here, more on the Sharjah Book Authority is here, more on Sharjah International Book Fair is here, more on publishing’s trade shows, book fairs, and festivals is here, and more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here. More on the Spanish market is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing 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 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.