Covering everything from the major news of the week and burning social issues, to expat living and la vida local, EL PAÍS’ team of English-language bloggers offers its opinions, observations and analysis on Spain and beyond.

Welcome E-Book. Goodbye bookshelves?

Por: | 17 de septiembre de 2011


This September, online book giant Amazon arrived in Spain.

Since June we’ve been looking, with persistent futility, for a new flat in Madrid; preferably one with a nice big bookshelf. But what about couples looking for flats in 10, 20, 50, 100 years? Will the entire concept of a bookshelf eventually become as outdated as the flying racism faced by Iraqi psychologist Mo in my Madrid-based novel ‘Selfishness’, which is out now as an E-Book on (

As you can see, authors of electronic books still need all the publicity they can get. In Spain the percentage of digital books sold does not yet amount to 1%, whereas in the US it is already a considerable 20%.

That leaves a great margin for development and growth in the digital book market in Spain. But there are those too who oppose the new arrival (

Before the late summer inauguration of, I talked to Roberto Dominguez Moro, a literary agent at ACER Literary Agency Madrid. And it seems that the oldest literary agency in Spain is entirely conscious of the need to adapt to the digital book revolution.


“We’re negotiating all the digital rights for all our already existing authors,” Roberto told me, “with caution still, working with short term contracts because we don’t know how the market will evolve, but all the books we have need to be negotiated to transfer them to E-Book, Kindle, and so on.”

So is a complete shift to the digital domain likely in the coming decades? Will a one-click buy and instant read at home eventually make that regular visit to the bookshop a rarity? And can bookshops continue to cope with the speed, flexibility and pricing of their online counterparts?

Amazon’s arrival on the Spanish market has given these anyhow relevant questions a renewed urgency. For as everything moves to the digital domain with increasing ferocity, isn’t it overtly romantic to think that the paperback book still stands a chance in the long run? Will it soon develop into a co-existence like payments with card and cash? A few of your favourite books in paperback, perhaps, but the rest in electronic-format?

There are the obvious E-comforts. A high capacity E-Book is obviously much lighter to carry than a stack of heavy books, giving it relevance not just in the private sphere but also in schools and universities. And digital reading can also be much lighter on your budget.

So prices may eventually become the determining factor in bringing about the decline of the paperback (see also: Many young authors like myself are already delaying paper publishing and going straight for the electronic option. For the author, an E-Book saves a great amount of time. Finish writing novel. Edit frantically. Upload.

A further 24 hours later it is already available to the reader. And it’s not just available for those with a Kindle reading device; there’s the option of PC, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad or Android reading.

As compatibility continues to increase, the boundaries of digital reading seem to be fading. I’m currently organising my first E-Signing for readers of my book. While I do so, I’m debating whether I really need such a big bookshelf in that new flat.   


What’s your opinion on the future of the E-Book and that of traditional paper publishing?


Matthias Krug is a Madrid-based writer of fiction and journalism. His first novel ‘Selfishness’ is available in English as an E-Book on Amazon.

Hay 2 Comentarios

"Gibberish" is staying in one´s coach waiting for nobody knows what. Let´s shake our conscience to see what falls: acorns or selfishness. It is your choice! YOUR choice, not other´s choice. Therefore, welcome E-books, good-bye E-Selflessness.

Is this post just an excuse to promote the mediocre gibberish you claim as literature?

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:


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