By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Bookwire’s Spanish-Language Audiobooks TripleOn Wednesday (June 7), when Dosdoce‘s Bilbao-based Javier Celaya moderates a round table on “The Audio Landscape” at Readmagine 2023 here in Madrid, he’ll have a new report to offer from the Spanish-language markets.
Released to Publishing Perspectives today (June 5) in advance of that Readmagine session with Lory Martinez, Michele Cobb, and Kurt Thielen, Celaya’s Dosdoce research indicates that growth in sales of ebooks and audiobooks in those markets in 2022 was surpassing that of print books.
The report’s executive summary is written by Celaya with Alejandra Segovia Sánchez and includes eight standout points:
- Annual reports from the Germany-based Bookwire and Spanish-language ebook platform Libranda indicates that digital content in the Spanish-language markets—Latin America, Spain and the United States’ Hispanic market—enjoy healthy growth rates between 5.7 percent and 4 percent respectively in revenues from the sale of ebooks; in audiobooks, those rates are between 52.81 percent and 50 percent respectively.
- Such figures outpace print book sales, which have only grown by 1.1 percent in 2022 compared to 2021 figures, according to a report by the Federación de Gremios de Editores de España (the Federation of Publishers’ Guilds of Spain, FGEE) and the German market research company GfK.
- Unit sales continue to be the leading business model in the ebook market, representing an average of 75 percent of total turnover.
- Subscription platforms account for two-thirds of total audiobook sales in Spanish-language markets.
- Digital lending in libraries stands out very positively, representing an average of 8 percent of total digital sales.
- Per territories, the United States’ Spanish-language sales have recorded one of their highest growth rates, at 30 percent or more.
- Retail prices of ebooks have increased 8 percent, one consideration being the reduction of VAT from 21 percent to 4 percent.
- Sixty percent of ebooks sold in Spain are priced at more than €8 (US$8.57).
Growing Inventories of Titles; Uneven Subscription Development
Dosdoce’s analysis highlights the fast development of the Spanish-language catalogues represented by Bookwire and Libranda.
“In 2019,” Celaya and Sánchez write, “Bookwire’s catalogue barely represented 45,000 titles, but by the end of 2022 it managed to almost triple, distributing more than 122,000 titles and aiming to close 2023 with more than 140,000 titles from 1,200 publishing imprints in the Spanish-language markets.
“Libranda has closed 2022 with another 128,000 titles in its catalogue belonging to 1,400 publishers, compared to the 90,000 titles it had in 2019.”
In comparing the two companies’ observations, Dosdoce’s output writes that the key distinctions between Bookwire’s and Libranda’s work to be in the composition and focus of the catalogues they represent; in different business development strategies deployed by the two distribution companies in various markets; and in marketplace policies.
While for the most part, post-pandemic-era sales patterns in international publishing’s digital formats have remained reasonably steady. Where there’s a downturn, it’s often observed as a rather slow glide-path back toward earlier levels.
By contrast, in ebook subscription platforms, Libranda—per Dosdoce’s new report—has seen a steep drop, a 15-percent decline in 2022 over 2021. That reduces the market share to 5.8 percent. And that contrasts with what Bookwire’s observations on subscriptions shows, coming to 23 percent of total sales, a point above the previous year.
Spain, Dosdoce reports, led among markets in subscription growth in 2022, at 27.8 percent.
Territorial Distinctions in the Spanish-Language Markets
Audiobook consumption in Spanish, Dosdoce says, falls into three main regions, based on the catalogues of Bookwire and Libranda.
- More than a third of the turnover of these audio catalogues is set in Spain, at 38.07 percent.
- Similarly, 39.42 percent of revenue comes from listening generated in Mexico (27.78 percent) and the rest of Latin America combined (11.64 percent).
- Listeners in the United States account for 22.52 percent, per the distributors’ reports.
“The constant growth of interest in the United States in Spanish-language culture,” the Dosdoce report reads, “is noteworthy because in 2022, the consumption of audiobooks increased by 82.94 percent.
“Unlike ebooks, which have experienced an 8-percent increase in their recommended retail price on average in 2022, the average recommended retail price of audiobooks is €12 (US$12.82), very close to the 2021 pricing.”
In Spain, Madrid approved lowering the VAT (value added tax) on ebooks to 4 percent from 21 percent in 2020. But Dosdoce reports that retail prices there increased by 8 percent in 2022.
Dosdoce’s report includes a chart indicating ebook pricing in Spain, VAT included.
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