Book fair in Antigua

Book fair in Antigua

La Antigua Guatemala was founded as Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala (Saint James of the Lords of Guatemala) on July 25th, 1524 at a location now known as Ciudad Vieja and then moved to its present location in 1543 (about 2 miles to the north from the founding site). I tell you this, so you know why July is the town’s fair and why as part of the fair activities there is a book fair. Books are a luxury in Guatemala and the levels of readership are probably among the lowest in America.

Nonetheless, here are some interesting figures: there are 69 book publishers in Guatemala, 29 are big industrial businesses. There are only 450 points of sale for the whole country, 50% of those outlets are pharmacies. 70% of the editorial market comes from Spain, Mexico and Colombia. Guatemala is the only country in the region that taxes books (12% is the tax at the register). These figures came from a recent interview with Cecilia Baily, president of the Gremial de Editores de Guatemala (book publishers association) in the July 2006 issue of Recrearte magazine (available as PDF download in Spanish). There are two international book fairs that will start on 28th of July in Guatemala City. FILGUA, International Book Fair in Guatemala and FILCEN, International Book Fair in Central America merged on a single huge event; if you can read Spanish you can hop over to my other blog for a longer description of Filgua and Filcen.

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