Written by Annie Diamond
A couple of weeks ago, Publishers Weekly wrote about an unexpected little region that produces most of the literature consumed by Spanish speakers around the world. That region is Catalonia, an area recently in the news for their attempts to secede from Spain. Catalonia encompasses Barcelona, which is the capital of the region, but also a hub of Spanish-speaking publishing activity. Barcelona’s publishing industry is bolstered by the presence of important publishing groups like Grupo Planeta and Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, as well as the prominent literary agency, Agencia Literaria Carmen Balcells.
Alongside their important Spanish-language publishing industry, Barcelona also is the center of a prominent Catalan book industry. Catalan is a minority language, but 60% of the people in Catalonia are fluent in it. Books written in Catalan are prolific: 10% of revenue of the Spanish book industry comes from Catalan titles and 13% of all titles published by Spain are in Catalan. Much of the support for Catalan literature is done at the ground level: Catalonian booksellers display Catalan titles equally with Spanish books and the actual printing of Catalan books is done locally.
While Catalonian independence is still being worked out, many publishers have questions about what will happen to the publishing industry in Barcelona. As publishing is an international business, some don’t see future complications involving Catalan independence. The publishing industry in Spain is currently doing well—recent book sales in Spain are up, following a long period of recession. Of course, independence will also affect the Catalan publishing industry. Catalonian independence could bolster feelings of national pride and cause an increase in book sales, or the economic turbulence involved in gaining independence could cause a slump in book sales. But as for now, the Catalan publishing industry remains vibrant.