1,7 million books to be sold on St George’s Day in Catalonia

Catalans traditionally exchange roses and books with their loved ones on 23rd of April. Streets and squares around the country fill with crowds in celebration of the National Day or ‘Diada’.


March 25, 2011 08:35 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- For a Catalan, St George’s Day is more romantic and traditional than Valentine’s Day. On 23 April, Catalans exchange books and roses with their loved ones, in a tradition that pulls people onto the streets to celebrate the festivity of the Patron Saint of Catalonia. Decorated with roses, books and Catalan flags, the streets and squares of Catalonia experience a radical transformation that day. 23 April is also a good business opportunity for book sellers in Catalonia. This year, 1,7 million books are expected to be sold. The figure represents between 5% and 8% of the annual turnover of the book industry.

Book sales on 23 April decreased in the last two years, due to the impact of the economic crisis. However the president of the Book Sellers Association, Antoni Daura, argues that sales will not continue to fall but rather stabilize this year before increasing next year. Daura expects this St George’s campaign to be similar to last year’s, with a total turnover of 20 million euros.

Because St. George’s Day falls on a Saturday, Daura said it will not be “as good” as a working-day. “The best St George’s campaigns are between Monday and Friday, on working-days,” he said. However, the festivity also coincides with Easter holidays, possibly provoking an increase in the number of people attending St George’s markets in small towns near their holiday homes.

“St George markets would probably be more crowded in the city centres and in holiday towns,” said Antoni Daura. In Barcelona, he expects people to attend the markets in ‘les Rambles’, while local shops in residential areas would be probably less busy than in other years.

The Book Sellers Association applauds the fact that best sellers such as Stieg Larsson’s novels do not dominate the festival. “It is very positive”, said Daura, who thinks that without such famous books, people tend to buy more diverse literature and do not only focus “on the titles that they have heard on television”. Daura expects to sell a “good number” of books from Catalan writers.

Daura does not expect St George to change from being a traditional market of hardcover books to one selling digital books. He sees the market’s attraction as the opportunity to walk and find the best books and roses amongst the stalls. “Digital book sales are still insignificant and I do not expect them to become the most important thing of St George’ Day”, he argued.