Traditional colourful Colombian handwoven baskets

Selling Canadian Books in Colombia: Rights Sales and Book Fairs

By Gabrielle Etcheverry Date: May 08, 2023

This year marks the Bogota International Book Fair’s (FILBo) 35th anniversary. FILBo is the most significant and longstanding cultural event in Colombia and is the second largest book fair in Spanish-speaking Latin America. To celebrate FILBo’s anniversary and give readers a glimpse into the opportunities available in Colombia’s vibrant book market, today we share our third installment in our series of excepts from our 2022 market guide, Selling Canadian Books in Colombia: A Guide for Canadian Publishers.

Read on for information on rights sales and book fairs in Colombia or download the guide in full!

Rights Sales

Rights sales can be negotiated and executed in three ways: between the authors and interested publishers, between the original publisher and interested publishers, and between literary agencies and interested publishers.

Rights for sale include publication in different formats; exports; translations, access licences for loaning via digital libraries and online reading platforms; film, television, or theatre adaptations; and licensing for the development of games, derived content, and merchandizing.

Although the rights market is active all year, book fairs are a great place to start, develop, and close purchase/sale negotiations.

Literary Agencies

Nearly 65 Colombian authors are represented by literary agencies. These agencies are mostly based in Spain—Barcelona, specifically. The founders and managers of several are from Latin American countries—primarily Argentina and Mexico—and are closely connected to Spain as the epicentre of Spanish-language publishing and the bonds that the shared language enables.

Among agencies representing Colombian authors, a few are based in countries other than Spain or whose work is focused on representing non-Spanish-speaking authors. These agencies can be classified as follows:

  • those based in Argentina and México;
  • those based in Germany and the United States specialized in representing Ibero-American authors;
  • American agencies that work with authors who write in English—whether anglophone or not—or that have built a portfolio of diverse authors.

The literary agencies representing Colombian authors include:

  • Agencia literaria Antonia Kerrigan
  • Agencia literaria Carmen Balcells
  • Agencia literaria CBQ
  • AMV Agencia Literaria
  • Ayesha Pande Literary
  • Casanovas & Lynch Agencia literaria
  • Indent Literary Agency
  • International Editors’ Co
  • Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents
  • Mertin Witt Literary Agency
  • Pampa Agency
  • Pontas Agency
  • RCW Literary Agency
  • Regal Hoffmann & Associates LLC
  • Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency
  • Schavelzon Graham Agencia literaria
  • Silvia Bastos Agencia literaria
  • The Friedrich Agency
  • The Wylie Agency
  • Trellis Literary Management
  • VF Agencia Literaria
  • VicLit Agencia literaria
  • Virginia López—Ballesteros Agencia Literaria

Mediation by literary agencies has played a central role in internationalizing the works of the Colombian authors they represent. Some works have achieved publication in over 20 countries and languages, thanks in part to their management.

General Contract Terms

In Colombia, rights contracts are typically for three or five years without limitations in terms of territory, number of copies, or reprints. Translation rights do not usually restrict territories. Royalties usually range between 5% and 10% on the final list price. Royalties from public sector publishers vary.

Contracts often include digital exploitation without specifying formats or sales channels. Royalties for sales in electronic formats are fixed on a higher percentage of net income than printed books.

It is not common for contracts to include subsidiary rights such as exploitation of media content, adaptations, or translations. In the case of children’s literature, contracts usually include subsidiary rights for merchandizing. The strengthening of the children’s literature market has led illustrators to demand royalties in a context where they, cover designers, and photographers do not usually receive them since they work on commission.

Negotiations over contracts are typically done directly between authors and publishers, although it is becoming more frequent for literary agencies to intervene. Mediation by literary agencies has gained importance for narrative authors whose works have reached a global scale, publishing mostly under imprints of large foreign publishing groups and, occasionally, with prestigious independent publishers.

Co-publishing and Translations

A small part of Colombian publishing production is issued jointly by two or more publishing agents under the co-publishing model. In 2020, according to ISBN data, 1,623 titles were co-published, representing 8.1% of total publications.

Of total ISBNs requested in 2020, 1,140 were assigned to titles translated from other languages—mostly from English, followed by French, Portuguese, German, and Italian. ISBNs assigned to titles translated from other languages represented 5.6% of the total requested ISBNs.

Some of these titles were translated in Colombia, while others were translated by a foreign publisher with a local branch and then published under a Colombian ISBN.

Book Fairs

The Colombian Book Chamber usually participates in the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and the Guadalajara International Book Fair, representing its affiliated publishers, who can exhibit a sample of their catalogues in these spaces and use them as a base of operations. The Colombian Book Chamber participates in these fairs with the support of public entities such as the Ministry of Culture, ProColombia, and the Bogota Municipal Government, and private organizations such as the Association of Independent Booksellers (ACLI), Siglo del Hombre Editores, and the Colombian Association of University Publishers (ASEUC).

Besides being present at the booth, some publishers take advantage of the business lounges for rights purchase/sale negotiations. Colombian publishers often participate in travel grant programs that the fairs offer for their managers to familiarize themselves with the local publishing environment, raise their catalogues’ visibility, connect with colleagues from other countries, and explore new business opportunities.

Colombian titles and publishers can also be found throughout the country’s own book fair network. In 2022, more than 1.7 million people participated in Colombia’s book fairs, most notably the Bogota International Book Fair (FILBo), the most significant and longstanding cultural event in Colombia and is the second largest book fair in Spanish-speaking Latin America. Usually scheduled to occur in late April and early May to dovetail with the Buenos Aires International Book Fair, FILBo takes place over a period of two weeks and is a mixed public and professional book fair combining literary and cultural events at the main fair venue as well as around the capital city and other parts of the country. In 2022 517,000 visitors attended the cultural, literary, and professional program; 500 national and international guests from 30 countries were among those in attendance. The fair also boasted 500 exhibitors over the 53,000 m2 event space, including 22 pavilions for commercial exhibitors from different countries and publishing sectors. Organizers also planned 1,600 in-person events at the fair venue and over 110 events around the city.

The Embassy of Canada to Colombia and Livres Canada Books have been promoting Canada’s presence at the FILBo through various channels, most recently with the publication of a brochure promoting titles from publishers who participated in our Mentoring – Coaching Program on Colombia and the Canadian Embassy to Colombia’s catalogue of Canadian children’s books authors and illustrators (both publications available in Spanish only).

Other important book fairs include:

  • Barranquilla Book Fair
  • Bucaramanga Book Fair
  • Cali Book Fair
  • Cúcuta Book Fair
  • Ipiales Book Fair
  • Itagui Book Fair
  • Manizales Book Fair
  • Medellin Book Fair
  • Montería Book Fair
  • Pasto Book Fair
  • Pereira Book Fair
  • Popayan Book Fair
  • Quibdo Book Fair
  • San Andres Book Fair
  • Santa Marta Book Fair

To see a directory of key book fair contacts, visit the Colombian Book Chamber website at

Want to learn more about the Colombian book market? You can download the guide or check out the recording of our recent Mentoring Program webinar on Colombia.