With the current tax-exemption on books set to expire on October 11, Peru’s Congress this week provided publishers with a twelve month reprieve, extending the VAT exemption of domestic and imported books for one more year.

The exemption is a short-term measure meant to hold the status quo while the government completes its planned review intended to boost the development of the publishing industry.

The so-called Book Law that exempts books from VAT has been in force since 2003, and failure to extend the exemption this year would have resulted in prices rising by up to 25%.

The Peruvian Book Chamber values the industry at S / 600 million ($180 MILLION).

That may not seem much, but this for a population of 32 million. And with 22 million of those online, there’s room for digital publishing expansion too.

Peru, like all the Latin American countries, falls into the “nations that don’t read” category, so it’s worth asking ourselves if, just maybe, the issue is the publishing infrastructure, not the consumers. Just maybe, if more books were available, accessible and affordable, more Peruvians would be reading.

Why would I say that? Because Peru’s biggest cultural event, year after year, is a book fair.

FIL Lima clocks 565,000 visitors. Peru’s biggest cultural event is a book fair. Again

I haven’t the full figures for the 2018 event yet, but in 2017, with just 547,000 visitors, the Lima International Book Fair sold 190,000 books to the value of $5.5 million.

The global book markets are bigger than you think.