Book market in Mexico - statistics & facts

The Mexican metropolis Guadalajara was named UNESCO World Book Capital for the year 2022. Home to one of the world’s most prestigious international book fairs, the city will celebrate the art of storytelling on World Book and Copyright Day. Beyond this literary event, however, the Mexican book market is facing a variety of challenges. The number of books printed in Mexico has decreased for the better part of a decade, and while Mexico’s book sales revenue has recently experienced an upward trend, unit sales visibly suffered as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Mexico’s publishing industry at a glance

Mexico’s book export value amounted to 126 million Mexican pesos in 2018. While Spanish-speaking countries such as Ecuador and Colombia were among the leading importers of Mexican print literature, the lion’s share of revenue was generated via exports to the United States. Mexico’s northern neighbor also accounted for the largest share of book imports into Mexico that year. Looking at Mexico’s leading book distribution channels, bookstores accounted for roughly a third of book sales and revenues in 2019. Schools and universities brought in another 30 percent, indicating that educational facilities and the public publishing sector are among the main drivers of reading engagement in Mexico.

Reading habits and trends

While Mexico boasts the largest Spanish-speaking population and higher literacy rates than many other Latin American countries, it does not have a large active readership. According to a recent survey on reading habits in Mexico, roughly 50 percent of adults read three books or less in 2019, while another 18 percent of respondents stated that they did not read any books at all. The same survey revealed that a lack of time and interest were the main reasons for not reading. Simultaneously, the scarcity of bookshops in remote regions and price variations among bookstores also visibly impact reading behavior. Between 2015 and 2020, the share of book readers among the Mexican adult population fell from 50 to 40 percent, which issued a significant challenge for small bookstores and the Mexican publishing industry as a whole.

Digital developments

Print remains the preferred book format among Mexican readers. While e-book sales revenue in Mexico reached 232.5 million Mexican pesos in 2019 and the country remained the largest Spanish-language e-book market in Latin America, e-book sales accounted for less than three percent of total Mexican book sales that year. Leading reasons for the slow adoption of e-books are a lack of purchasing power and internet access in many parts of the country. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, however, digital offerings experienced a spike in popularity and became a safety net for the Mexican book market. Since then, the sector has taken several steps towards digital transformation by converting titles into e-book formats and increasing the digital catalog.

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Book market in Mexico

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