400,000 books sold. $4.7 million revenue. 500,000+ visitors. Reflections on the 2018 Lisbon Book Fair

I’m still trying to track confirmed final figures for the 88th Feira do Livro de Lisboa, which wound up a few weeks ago, but we do know that as the event was drawing to a close expectations were that the numbers would equal or slightly exceed the 2017 results.

Unseasonally inclement weather dampened spirits a little this year, but with a public holiday to end the event and Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa turning up to the fair for the last day, all the indications were the 2018 event at least matched 2017, when 537,000 visitors turned out, buying 400,000 books and spending 4 million euros ($4.7m) over the twenty day event.

To ram home those numbers, that means on average 200,000 euros ($234,000) was being spent on 20,000 books every day.

Participantes da Feira do Livro esperançados no feriado para ultrapassarem vendas de 2017

For a useful overview of the event in English, check out the 2 Sea Literary Agency website.

2 Seas junior agent Chrysothemis Armefti is based in Lisbon so was able to give us an informed personal perspective of not just the fair but of the Portuguese book market.

The book market in Portugal has been through some difficult times over the last decade due of the general economic crisis. However, Portuguese publishers seem more resilient than ever, ready to adapt to the current trends, finding ways to stay afloat. Some publishers are focusing more on Portuguese authors, others are reissuing classics, and others chose to shift their focus on to non-fiction.

The Portuguese publishers I met were very optimistic about their non-fiction titles both from Portuguese and foreign authors, which sometimes represent up to 70% of their catalog. The major focus being books on personal development, parenting, history and biographies.

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