The Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) wrapped up its nine-day run on December 3 and attendance was even with 2016, holding steady at 815,000 people. The event includes two “professional days,” but is otherwise a cultural event focused on the public. A total of 20,748 professionals attended the event, said the organizers. A burgeoning rights center sold 125 tables and the keynote for the professional program was given by Carlo Feltrinelli, CEO of Italy’s Gruppo Feltrinelli
Among the hot topics at this year’s FIL was the introduction of Nielsen’s BookScan to Mexico, the first such list tracking sales for any country in Spanish-speaking Latin America. (Nielsen has offered Bookscan in Brazil since 2013). To coincide with the BookScan announcement, Nielsen released its first bestseller lists in the categories of fiction, nonfiction and children’s books. The top titles were Origin by Dan Brown (Paneta) in fiction; Mexico Bizzarro by Alejandro Rosas and Julio Patán (Planeta) in non-fiction; and Gravity Falls – Journal 3 by Alex Hirch and Rob Renzetti (Planeta). The rankings are based on sales from October 30 to November 12.
“We need information [to] measure what sells, when, where and in what quantities,” said Silvia Matute, president of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial USA (PRHGE), based in Miami. “Having quantitative information about the market and specific numbers is a game changer.”
The bestseller list was compiled from the sales of various chains such as Walmart, Aurrerá, and Soriana as well as bookstores such as Gandhi, Gonvill, Sanborns, El Sótano, El Péndulo and Educal. Pemán said the company is looking to expand to further Latin American markets in coming years.
Another hot issue was the relationship between the U.S.and the Latin American markets, in particular the potential impact of the Trump administration’s threats to re-negotiate NAFTA. The overall tenor of the various panels on the topic was one of wariness and even distrust of the American president and the suggestion that any change to NAFTA could potentially curtail the availability of Spanish-language books in the U.S. many of which are imported.
NAFTA re-negotiations could have a significant impact on the fair itself, which this year attracted 170 US librarians who come to buy books. In addition, several publishers invest heavily to sell their books in Mexico. Jenny Lizarraga, director and founder of Cinco Books, a Miami-based Spanish-language book distributor, told PW that they invest in marketing before, during, and after FIL in order to reach more buyers. She said Cinco Books sold approximately $250,000 to $300,000 worth of books at this year’s fair, 40% more than in 2016.
For Spanish-language publishers from further afield, attending Guadalajara remains a top priority. “This is one of the most important events in our calendar that we can’t miss,” said Georgina Segurra Ros, sales director of Gemser Publishing in Barcelona. “It’s one place where we can meet all the publishers from different Latin American countries like Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile.”
This year, the fair featured the city of Madrid as its guest of honor, hosted authors that included Paul Auster, Azar Nafisi, Emmanuel Carrère, among others and offered a new hall focusing on comics and graphic novels.
Portugal will be the guest of honor at the 2018 fair, which will take place from November 24 to December 2.