Paper shortage threatens the recent book sector growth in Spain
In the last eighteen months, during the pandemic, sales of books have reportedly increased by between 17 per cent, and 23 per cent. Unfortunately, various external factors are threatening to put an end to this upward trend.
According to data, the book sector in Spain accounts for 0.8 per cent of its GDP, employing around 50,000 people. During 2020, as many as 74,589 book titles were published, and the number of readers in Spain increased. 57 per cent of Spaniards are reported to have admitted to reading a book at least once a week during this time.
With virtually all economic activities now having resumed, whether people will continue to read as much, remains to be seen. The sector is also currently facing a number of external threats. A sudden scarcity of paper is the first problem, which has seen prices increase as a result. Another is the speed of delivery, a shortage of drivers, and keeping up with demand.
Secondly, it has been revealed that between 20 per cent and 24 per cent of book sales in Spain are now apparently made online through Amazon. With only around 38 per cent of traditional bookshops in Spain having an online store, this e-commerce giant is a major threat to their survival.
With such a demand by online buyers, this has led the paper industry to divert its priorities to the manufacturing of cardboard packaging. This comes at the expense of the production of paper.
Timber industries in Norwegian and Canadian forests during the pandemic, came to a standstill. These are the largest raw material suppliers to the paper industry. As a result, it is reported that only 3 per cent of paper pulp goes to book production. This has resulted in an increase in Spain of around 30 per cent in the price of paper.
Printers have also reportedly increased their prices by around 20 per cent according to publishers. This comes due to the recent energy price hikes in the country. Patrici Tixis, president of the Spanish Publishers’ Federation (FGEE), said, “It is a purely cyclical issue related to a strong demand that has come all of a sudden and that is not only for books, but also for other types of packaging printing”.