Returning to the subject of book readership in Spain . . . A couple of readers have commented that quite a lot of reading is seen on the Madrid metro. Which is true but I do sometimes wonder how many of the readers are home-grown. More to the point, perhaps, what else can one do on a tube train, other than stare blankly into the faces of the people directly opposite? Or at your shoes. But does one see much reading taking place in the cafés of Madrid? Or, say, in the Retiro park? Anyway, I’ve been trying to get national book readership figures to give some statistical endorsement to my comments but without luck so far. I’ll keep trying and, until the data is in, will continue to believe the Spanish will always eschew reading if there’s a chance to chat. Which I like to think is a factual, not a censorial, observation. I like both of these pastimes equally and revel in the fact I can enjoy both in Spain whenever and wherever I find myself. Sometimes at the same time.
From Santiago university, Xoán Wahn comments that his (poor quality) text books cost at least 25 euros each. Having been in that fine institution a couple of weeks ago and having seen not a word of Spanish on any of the notice boards, I’m guessing these are all in Gallego. Which a limited market, of course. But full of captive customers. I imagine the publishers could double the prices and get away with it. So, what’s keeping them?
By the way – The third market which foxes me here is that for newspapers. As with books, I can’t figure out how anyone makes money other than via subsidies. Which come in direct and indirect forms. Ghost subscriptions in the latter case. The press yesterday gave us the news there are 12 daily papers circulating in Cataluña, for 7.4 million people. Well, we have even more than that here in Galicia, with a population of under 3 million.
A propos . . . For some reason or other – possibly irregularities in application – Brussels has suddenly cut off all aid to the Spanish film industry. This has promptly led to internecine fighting among those accustomed to relying on this largesse. This is so bad one commentator sees it as potentially suicidal. Which rather points up the danger of developing an industry on the basis of hand-outs of other peoples’ money.
Finally . . . It’s been suggested half of the income on rental properties in Spain is not declared to the inland revenue. You’d think the government would tighten up on this before ramping up taxes for the rest of us. On the other hand, there’d probably be even less of a rental market here if they did. It’s a funny country sometimes. But I suppose they all are.