It’s official from the Book Fairs Network of Colombia. One and a half million people turned out to book fairs and festivals across the country in 2018 and bought over one million books that will not show up in the national book retailer reports.

The 5th meeting of la Red de Ferias del Libro de Colombia was held in Bogota in November, comprising representatives from the fairs of Barranquilla, Bogota, Bucaramanga, Cali, Chocó, Cúcuta, Manizales, Montería, Pereira and Popayán, the Ministry of Culture and the Colombian Book Chamber.
The meetings are to review the year, identify issues and to plan the following year’s agenda.
PublishNews ES has the numbers.

More than one and a half million people attended at least one of the regional book fairs held in Colombia. In these fairs, which occupied 93 days of activity, slightly more than a quarter of the year, 7,051 cultural and academic programming activities were carried out, more than double that in 2017 (3,800 activities). In the fairs, which had more than 950 exhibitors, 2,588 local, national and international authors were present. It is estimated that close to 1.1 million books were sold at the fairs.

Most countries do not have a coordinating body keeping track of book fair attendance and sales, but what we have here is a clear indicator of how much of the book industry engagement with readers is going unrecorded by the national statistics that only tell us what selected retailers report back.
I say here often when reporting on the book fair numbers that I’m missing an untold number more. Colombia is a case in point.
Of the Colombian book fairs this year as listed above – Barranquilla, Bogota, Bucaramanga, Cali, Chocó, Cúcuta, Manizales, Montería, Pereira and Popayán – I have managed to report on just one, FIL Bogota, with its 575,000 visitors this year.

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Now we learn the real number across the country was almost three times that.
And that’s just one relatively small country in South America.
No matter how big you think the global book market is, it’s going to be bigger.