As mainstream publishing struggles in Latin America, book fair attendance and sales continue to rise. Colombia’s Bogota IBF sets new record with sales up 10% from 605,000 visitors

Celebrating its bicentennial, Colombia this year had itself as guest of honour at the Bogota International Book Fair, and attracted 605,000 visitors, up from 575,000 last year and 550,000 in 2017. Sales are reported to be up 10% on 2018’s Bogota event.

Last year 1.5 million Colombians bought 1.1 million books at national book fairs, largely unremarked by the stats counters that measure the health of the book markets, and this year is likely to see that figure rise still higher.

1.5 million people attended book fairs in Colombia in 2018, buying 1.1 million books not recorded by the retail sector

The Bogota International Book Fair, known as FILBo from its Spanish title Feria del Libro Bogotá, is the biggest cultural event in Colombia, and it’s a similar story for many Latin American book fairs, raising a big question mark over the conventional wisdom that Latinos don’t read.

This is an argument we’ve raised many times here at TNPS. Not here to go over that yet again.

Just to ask the obvious question – if bookstore sales are declining yet more and more people are heading to book fairs spending more and more on books that are either unavailable or unaffordable at mainstream booksellers, is there not a fundamental disconnect between industry perception and consumer reality that needs addressing?

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