Publishers lose 350 million euros to digital piracy in 2012

Year offered mixed results for book industry, survey shows

The rise of e-book readers has changed the publishing industry.
The rise of e-book readers has changed the publishing industry. BLOOMBERG

The digital book coin in Spain is shining more and more brightly on one side, but increasingly tarnishing on the other.

While the number of titles is growing, now including 22 percent of all books registered -- 13 percent more than in 2011 -- piracy is also on the increase. It is estimated that around 350 million euros have been lost to unauthorized copying of e-books -- between 13 and 15 percent of the three billion euros the industry turned over last year.

"The greater the legal range in digital format, the greater the amount of piracy," said Antonio María Ávila, secretary of Spain's Federation of Publishers' Associations (FGEE).

The first study of the industry relating to 2012, created with data from the ISBN Agency and presented by the FGEE, also indicated that eight percent fewer books were published last year than the year before - 88,349 compared with 103,102 in 2011. Of these, 78 percent were print and 22 percent were digital editions.

"The fall is not just due to private-sector publications but also to the reduction of titles by institutions, local governments and sponsors of state organizations -- something that will continue to occur this year," warns Julián Rodríguez of publishing house Periférica.

Nuria Cabutí, managing director of the Random House Mondadori group, raises another problem: "To the figures of the decrease in the number of titles published, you also have to add the drop in publishing industry sales income, which is around 12 percent according to Nielsen data," she says. "This severe fall is produced by a severe crisis in consumption and the serious increase in piracy, since Spain is ahead of European countries in sales of reading devices without this translating into a proportional increase in digital sales."

The Spanish publishing sector is currently coping with the double crisis of having to reinvent its business model for the digital world while weathering the global economic meltdown.

"The results are not so disastrous bearing in mind the situation in which we are living," said Manuel Borrás of the Pre-textos publishing house.

Indeed, it is not all bad news. As well as the 13-percent rise in the number of e-book titles, the number of books in co-official languages also increased in 2012. The amount of titles available in Catalan was up to 7,175 (an eight-percent rise); to 1,340 for Galician titles (up two-percent); 1,214 for Valencian (one percent) and 1,201 for Basque books (also a one-percent rise). Spain is also the country with the second-highest amount of translated books in Europe, after Germany, with 19,792 titles, most of them from English.

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