El Planeta was, with its 601,000 euros, the best endowed prize in Spanish literature, accompanied by the tagline, “only surpassed by the Nobel.” This will have been the case until this edition: by surprise, the president of Grupo Planeta, Josep Creuheras, has announced that the award will now award its winner one million euros. And it does so since this same edition, the 70th. “It is still a tradition of this award since its foundation: we started with 40,000 pesetas of the time and we have gradually increased it over the years,” he said. The head of the first Spanish-language publishing group did not want to enter into comparisons: “We are not in competition with anyone, we respond to a tradition and in a context of good book situation after the pandemic.” The Planet thus narrowly exceeds the Nobel prize, which is around 980,000 euros. Accordingly, the finalist has also seen its amount increased to 200,000 euros, 30% more than until now (150,250 euros).
Creuheras has announced the new bag in the framework of the massive press conference prior to the award that is announced this Friday, in front of more than 150 journalists, in Barcelona. If the return to the new normal needed an inaugural shot in the world of the book, this is the recovery, after the pandemic hiatus last year, it could not have more and better ammunition. The bag accompanies the wonders recovered from the Planeta award, which recovers the traditional dinner in the generous space of the National Museum of Art of Catalonia, and will be the Kings of Spain.
The million euros comes in the year in which the award breaks records for originals presented, 654 novels, a clear trace of the recent covid past: it is 11% higher than those presented in 2020 (582 originals), when the Vitoriana Eva García Sáenz de Urturi mixing the thriller with the historical novel in Aquitania. That genre is once again stitched by fantasy, the predominant one among the finalist novels.
Following tradition, the celebration of a round edition such as that of the 70 years will involve the presence of the Kings of Spain, which will have its controversial counterpart in the position of the presidency of the Generalitat, which will delegate to its Minister of Culture, a tacit staging, from the trial, of the malaise of the Catalan government with the King and with Grupo Planeta itself, which moved its headquarters to Madrid.
The increase in the endowment of the award is part of the good progress that the Spanish publishing sector is experiencing, and in particular the Planeta group. “Almost doubling the endowment is not easy, but we have decided to take advantage of the good moment we have,” said Crehueras after the press conference. The president of the group is optimistic about how this year will close, although he does not venture figures, since a good part of the business will depend on the sales of the fourth quarter. In any case, he has ensured that they will exceed the figures of 2020, the year of the pandemic, in which the group had a turnover of 1,500 million euros and obtained a gross operating profit before taxes (ebitda) of 270 million. In 2019, the turnover amounted to 1,781 million euros and the ebitda was 229 million.
Planeta obtained profits last year, of approximately 55 million euros, as explained by the president. The previous year the group earned 32 million. Debt, which was significantly reduced in 2019 thanks to the sale of the French publisher Editis to Vivendi, continues on its downward path, going from 600 million to the current 500 million, refinanced last December. Crehueras has admitted that the Italian subsidiary of the group, DeA Planeta Libri, “is not going well”, and has predicted that the group will leave the shareholding in the near future.
The Planeta group is an editorial and communication conglomerate that has several lines of business. The publisher, which includes the different labels it has in its catalog, accounts for 25% of its business volume, and Crehueras highlights that it still dominates the sale of paper books (95% compared to 5% of electronic books). ) and bought in bookstores (about 70% of the total). The training business, in which Planeta has investments in universities around the world, represents 25% of the total, while the audiovisual business (Planeta is a leading shareholder in the Atresmedia group and in La Razón) accounts for 50% . The group also owns the Casa del Libro bookstore chain, and despite the ravages of the pandemic (Crehueras has recognized that it forced investment processes to slow down), the objective is still to extend the network even further: this year the They have opened five bookstores and the forecast is to open another six next year.