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At the end of the 1960s the Jaka brothers started doorstep sales of books, continuing the work done by one of them: Joseba Jaka.
Right from the start they worked with ikastolas in order to meet their needs for educational materials. For example, 1,500,000 pesetas from book sales were donated to Gordailu to set up an ikastola library.
The 1970s saw the early stages in the group’s development.
In 1972, a group of 20 cultural activists from Ipar Euskal Herria, the French Basque Country, founded ELKAR, a name that has been used more for the meaning of the word, from elkarlana, which means collaboration, than as the original acronym, Euskal Liburu eta Kantuen Argitaldaria.
In 1976, after the dictator Franco’s death, they opened their first bookshop over the Spanish border, specifically in Donostia (San Sebastián), to raise the profile of Basque books. These first steps established the basis of today’s elkar Fundazioa.
In the following decades, the 1980s, the network of bookshops expanded to different places in Gipuzkoa province, as well as Iruña (Pamplona) and Bilbo (Bilbao). In 1977 the publisher opened its second site in Donostia, specialising in the development of educational materials in partnership with people in education, publishing materials in collaboration with UZEI, Elhuyar and the association Bostak bat, and later with the ikastolas themselves. The group also opened a recording studio.
In the 1990s it took a major leap forward. At the same time as it expanded its network of bookshops, it began selling beyond the Basque Country, creating infrastructures in Madrid and Barcelona.
In 1996 elkar Fundazioa was set up, in line with the group’s initial philosophy: to foster Basque culture and reinvest profits in it. Publishers Ttarttalo and Sua joined the group.
elkar Taldea playted an active part in setting up the newspapers Egunkaria, in 1990, and Berria, in 2003. A year before, Martin Ugalde Kultur Parkea had opened for the first time.
In the 2000s the group continued to consolidate its position. It expanded its sales and distribution network, and played a part in new business and cultural initiatives, including Ikaselkar, Hamaika and Irrien Lagunak. The publisher Txertoa joined the group.
In the decade from 2010 the group undertook a process to restructure its companies and consolidated its distribution structures outside the Basque Country.
At the start of the 2020s the group established its headquarters in Aduna (Gipuzkoa), from which it coordinated the whole of its distribution service in the Basque Country and elsewhere in Spain.