Argentina has always been recognised for its cultural heritage and for its appreciation of art, specially literature. It's no surprise then that some of the most notable Latin American writers come from this country: Borges, Sábato and Cortázar are just some of the names that you can find on bookshelves all over the world. But in the last few years, Argentina’s publishing sector has had a big decline in terms of sells and consumption.
If you take a look at the numbers there’s a very gloomy scenery. According to the annual production report of the Argentinian book, in comparison with 2015, there has been a downfall of nearly 50% in the production of books and the first quarter of 2019 has been the worst in the past five years in terms of sales and production of books.
So what are the reasons behind this crisis? We can mention a few.
The main one is a repercussion of the high inflation the country is going through right now, reaching nearly 55% (being the second highest in Latin America behind Venezuela), and the currency devaluation which consequently rises prices. For instance, according to Leonora Dajment director of independent publisherEterna Cadencia, the price of paper increased its value by 145%.
Publishers also complain about the lack of support from the current administration. At the present, there’s no friendly or aid policies for the publishing sector. Mauricio Macri suspended law nº 26.206 of National Education, which main function was to strengthen school libraries of low-resource schools with the purchase of books by the state.
The independent publishers are the ones who suffer this crisis the most. Now they not only have to scrape the money together to be able to buy supplies (such as paper), compete with the big publishing houses but they also have to find their own tools to promote reading between Argentinians.
The main issue is that if as it is right now independent publishers are small enough, if they keep shrinking they’ll completely disappear from the market. Right now the challenge for the Argentine book industry lays on finding how to rescue this important cultural sector while at the same time battling with the economic hardship.