Spanish newspapers, like those elsewhere, are facing falling sales and the drift to the web. But they are fighting it in some rather intriguing ways.
Extras are big things here, but rather different from the give away DVDs and CDs you find in British papers. I find those rather strange ways of getting people to papers. They are expensive, require large sums of TV advertising to promote and seem to have little long-term effect. If you buy The Times only because you like its 40 Diva Hits CD you’re not likely to buy it again.
Here you have to work for your extras, either by collecting coupons day by day or ponying up some extra dough. Last Sunday, for example, you could have had the following:
La Vanguardia – a very fine stainless steel kitchen ladle, part of a 12-piece weekly set. Four coupons from papers during the week plus 50 cents. I am collecting these religously.
El Periodioco - A free album for historic photos of Barcelona. The trick being that you have to buy the paper every day for two months to get the pictures to fill the album
El Pais - The first in a series of Jazz CDs at €1 with the rest twice a week at €5.
ABC – The first in a series of kids' DVDs, €5 each.
The sports papers are not excluded. One of the two papers that follow Barca here is offering the ‘authentic’ Barca jacket and the other one the ‘real’ one. Either way you need something like 28 coupons to go and get one.
Some of these offers are fairly upscale. You can get a volume of the Larousse encyclopaedia with La Vanguardia every week and from tomorrow, a CD and book set on the great operas of the world. Papers here still have some notion of trying to better their readers rather than just feed them pap about Big Brother.
As a result the newsagents of Barcelona sometimes resemble junk shops with CDs, books and egg whisks. But it does seem a better way of engendering loyalty than just giving away endless DVDs …