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Commercial publishing in Colombia increased 2.2% in 2021, with sales of 31.1 million copies

Commercial publishing in Colombia increased 2.2% in 2021, with sales of 31.1 million copies

Exports of the publishing sector in Colombia in 2021 presented a growth of 61.9%.

The Colombian Chamber of Books published the Book Statistics in Colombia for the year 2021. The report records the behavior of the publishing sector in terms of supply of titles and copies, net sales and by subsector, copies, marketing channels, and employment generation, as well as ISBN registrations in Colombia for the period 2019 – 2021.

ISBN registrations in Colombia

The Colombian Book Chamber as the ISBN Agency in Colombia reported that 20,365 new titles were registered for publication in 2021, of which 672 were for civil persons, 2,933 for self-published, and 16,760 for legal entities. The total shows a slight increase of 28 titles compared to 2021.

Regarding subsectors, it is estimated that approximately half of the ISBNs assigned in the last three years are for general interest titles, one-third for technical and scientific books, and more than 10% for didactic books. Religious books have a share of about 4%.

Supply of titles published and printed in Colombia

The report states that in 2021, 18,873 titles were published by format, of which 14,010 correspond to printed books, 4,731 to digital books, and 42 correspond to audiobooks. Between 2018 and 2021, the supply of printed titles went from 91.1% to 74.6%, while the digital book, which in 2018 represented 7.3% of the supply of titles went to 25.2% in 2021.

On the other hand, it highlights that the supply of titles published by the subsector reached 25,327, of which 11,923 are of general interest, 7,366 didactics, 4,746 religious books, and 1,292 technical and scientific books.

Net sales

As for net sales by subsector, that is before discounts, in 2021 they reached 685,584 million pesos, with the general interest subsector contributing the most to this figure with 275,055 million, followed by didactic with 192,194, million, scientific-technical with 164,876 million and religious with 53,459 million.

Of the sales of books to the public in 2021, the bookstore channel and own points of sale stood out, accounting for 12% of the sector’s sales. On the other hand, book fairs registered only 0.4% of sales, basically because these events could only be held virtually in 2021, due to pandemic restrictions.

It is worth noting that sales of printed books during 2021 were channeled 50.2% through chains and other bookstores, representing half of the printed book sales. If department stores and virtual bookstores are added, total sales through these channels amounted to 67.3% of the total.

E-book sales presented a notable growth in 2021, compared to the immediately preceding year, reaching an amount of 22,794 million pesos, which were marketed through virtual bookstores, with a share in sales of 78.5%.

Copies sold

In 2021, commercial publishers sold 31.1 million copies in Colombia, representing a 7.7% reduction compared to copies sold in 2020.

From 2018 to 2021, the total number of copies sold has presented a continuous decrease, from 47.1 million in 2018 to 31.1 million in 2021. The percentage decrease has been 33.7% over the four years of the series. The above is a product of the pandemic, which affected sales in all book subsectors. However, the strongest reduction occurred in 2020 (22.7%). By 2021 this trend decreased to 7.8%.

The share of book subsectors in total sales indicates that the didactic book has been the most affected going from a 45% share of sales in 2020 to 33% in 2021. The sector that has gained the most share is general interest, which went from 39% to 47% between 2020 and 2021.


Exports from the publishing sector in 2021 showed a growth of 61.9%, representing 54,802 million pesos, compared to $34,011 million in 2020. This figure, however, is below the level reached for this item before the pandemic ($58.276 million in 2018; $61.554 million in 2019).


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