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Barcelona, renowned as a capital of literature

Barcelona is both the capital of the Catalan-language book industry and also one of the most important cities in Spain and South America for books in Spanish.

Its importance in the publishing sector in both languages has enabled the city to develop a major publishing cluster that is recognized around the world and seen in full bloom on St. Jordi’s day – the festival of love and reading celebrated throughout Catalonia on 23 April with the purchase of books and roses.

Barcelona is well-known for being a prestigious book capital: a city of publishers, booksellers, and writers. There are several reasons why Barcelona has gained such a prominent place in the world's publishing industry and has been recognized by UNESCO as a City of Literature.  Barcelona is home to the head offices of three global publishing giants: the Planeta group, founded in 1949 and, since its inception, one of the leading publishing and communications groups in Spain; RBA, founded in 1991, and one of the largest publishing groups in South America; and finally, the American group Penguin Random House, founded in 2003, which has chosen to locate their head office for Spanish-language publications here.

The sector in Barcelona is also made up of a very well-organized group of more than 200 publishers of different sizes, including so-called "independent publishers." These enrich Barcelona and boost the city’s importance as the capital of the publishing industry in both Spanish and Catalan. They include Salamandra, Club Editor, Editorial Minúscula, Libros Asteroide, La Campana, Edicions 1984, Apla Decay, Anagram, Grup 62, Raig Verd, Periscopi, and many more. The publishing sector in Catalonia has the highest turnover in Spain, ahead of Madrid.

The headquarters of three major publishing giants worldwide: Grupo Planeta, RBA, and Penguin Random House, are today in Barcelona

The sector in Barcelona is also made up of a very well-organized group of more than 200 publishers of different sizes, including so-called "independent publishers." These enrich Barcelona and boost the city’s importance as the capital of the publishing industry in both Spanish and Catalan. They include Salamandra, Club Editor, Editorial Minúscula, Libros Asteroide, La Campana, Edicions 1984, Apla Decay, Anagram, Grup 62, Raig Verd, Periscopi, and many more. The publishing sector in Catalonia has the highest turnover in Spain, ahead of Madrid.

In addition to publishing, Barcelona has an ecosystem that includes an excellent network of public libraries and bookshops, and numerous writers, translators, and printers... not to mention readers, obviously!

Barcelona has a cluster of more than 200 publishers of different sizes

Literature fete

This ecosystem is seen most clearly on St. Jordi’s day, when the people of Barcelona come together to celebrate literature. Every 23 April, the eyes of all those in the book industry around the world are on Barcelona, and so this celebration plays an important role in positioning Barcelona within the sector.

As well as being a celebration of literature and love, St. Jordi’s Day is also the day on which the most books are sold throughout the year. More than 1.5 million books are sold in Barcelona alone. Created in 1926, the day was declared World Book Day by UNESCO in 1995 and brings together readers, leading authors, and booksellers, for whom it represents the equivalent of a month's turnover.

This year the St. Jordi festival has had to be completely reinvented due to the pandemic that started in Spain in March. Following the official cancellation of the day this year, the publishing sector decided to move the holiday to July. So this week Barcelona will see the Paseo de Gracia, one of the most important and most-photographed streets in the city, once again filled with books and roses. The people of Barcelona will finally be able to enjoy their book festival, albeit in compliance with the new hygiene and safety measures. Within the context of the "new normal,” the two sectors most involved in this festival (the book and rose-selling industries) will at least have a chance to "rescue" the year in some small way thanks to the postponement of St. Jordi's day to the rather warmer month of July.

 

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