I have to admit that I will always be more of Sant Jordi. At the state level, Book Day is gaining more and more strength, but the tradition of the book and the rose has stolen my heart. How nice that in addition to exchanging books, we donate roses.
In any case, the important thing is that once a year we dedicate a day to celebrate reading. In 2020, that day has faded due to COVID, and this year measures and restrictions will still be in place to prevent pre-pandemic celebrations.
Barcelona city hall has made a commitment near Sant Jordi in order to avoid the crowds. Neighborhood bookstores, which have been hit so hard since the first lockdown began over a year ago, will gain strength.
But what about those who prefer to buy books online? They (myself included) have a great opportunity to show their commitment to small business as part of their biggest campaign of the year.
Amazon already has Prime Day.
Amazon’s real threat
I don’t know if that was the case with you too, but never in my life had I read so much as in 2020. A consequence of spending more time at home, I guess, and also of needing to do something useful (relaxing, but useful) when we couldn’t get out.
It seems I was not the only one. The number of books increased exponentially during quarantine. According to data from the Federation of Publishers Guilds, 72% of sales were made online: only 6 out of 100 were purchased from physical bookstores.
As a result, Spanish bookstores recorded losses of 22.55% due to the impact of the health crisis. Even Sant Jordi postponed to July (every April 23 they sell 10% of the annual box) saved the year.
Can’t guess who held up quarantine well?
Indeed, Amazon. The e-commerce giant has recorded almost half of book sales in Europe. In fact, the company closed the year with doubled profits and profits of $ 21,331 million.
The early days of the business have been closely tied to selling books, but it’s time for Amazon to stop being the first place we think about when we want to buy our next read. Apart from all the environmental implications that this has.
Second threat: eBooks and audiobooks
The paper book is not dead. Again.
In 2008, the Frankfurt Fair gathered the opinions of some 1000 publishers from 30 different countries and the result was discouraging for those who wanted to continue reading in the traditional way for many years: the digital book would prevail over the paper. in ten years.
“For 15 centuries, the traditional book has been unmatched. But digital books are reclaiming their space and everything indicates that there will come a time when digital will overtake paper, ”said Paulo Coelho at the time.
It’s 2021 and that hasn’t happened yet, and so far it looks like they’re quite a ways away from moving printed books (they’re only 5% of the total), but they give us a reason to more to stop going to bookstores.
It says a lot that my mom, a seasoned reader and regular user of my hometown library, occasionally uses the e-book reader my parents have at home. Electronic books are an inevitable part of our lives.
And in the 2010s, audiobooks also came to stay, although this is not a new technology: it was born with the invention of the phonograph. As strange as it still seems to me, there are those who read with their ears. Even more than with the Kindle.
But that’s what Amazon has Audible for, don’t worry.
The great advantage of e-books and audiobooks is that they take up little space. Physical, of course. They can collapse the memory of your smartphone
And that presupposes a moral debate.
And a big problem, not only for bookstores, but for the authors themselves.
Bookshop and todostuslibros.com have the solution
In 2015, Amazon opened its first physical bookstore in Seattle. Four years later, it already had 18 stores across the United States, in cities like New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Chicago.
“Obviously being a top seller among real booksellers can do a lot of damage. Really hope this doesn’t work for them, ”James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, Britain’s leading bookstore chain, told the BBC.
Although Amazon Books has not reached Europe, things have changed and it is now local bookstores that are fighting back with their own online stores. For now, in a very discreet way, of course, and in the hands of initiatives like Bookshop.
On April 12, the Spanish (and Catalan) version of Bookshop opened. With him, as is the case with stores in the United States and the United Kingdom, it is about helping neighborhood booksellers and booksellers and promoting local commerce.
By simply going to their website, you can see the amount that has been generated for these independent bookstores. For each book purchased through the page of one of the affiliated bookstores, they receive a 25% commission.
Even if you buy a book from Bookshop without choosing your favorite bookstore, the store online agrees to invest this 25% in a mutual fund. This is then distributed to all bookstores that have joined your affiliate program.
But before Bookshop, the Spaniards already had another way to buy in local bookstores without leaving home. In October 2020, todostuslibros.com ceased to be a simple establishment search engine to also become a store online.
Behind this project hides the Spanish Confederation of Corporations and Associations of Booksellers (CEGAL), which ensures that 100% of the money generated for the sale of a book goes to the bookseller or bookseller.
In this case, you should also choose the bookstore (among the more than 700) where you want to buy your next reading. If you prefer, you can search for the book in question and browse the map to find one where it’s available.
From Sant Jordi
This April 23 is just the beginning.
If we want to help the small businesses, booksellers and bookstores in our neighborhood, we can’t stop doing it at the end of Book Day. They will need us on Black Friday and the next Christmas vacation.