Books in Spanish
On June 18, I hosted a PW webinar called “Spanish-Language Books in the U.S.” that generated a number of questions from publishers, book- sellers, and librarians, including many about the growing demand for Spanish-language children’s and young adult titles. The interest in this egment is due, in part, to the increased birth rate among Hispanics,
and the fact that many parents of children born in recent years want their kids to
maintain their Spanish-speaking and -reading skills, even as they learn English.
Another factor is the growing number of non-Hispanic parents who want their children
to learn Spanish as a second language.
At present, most Spanish-language children’s and YA books in the U.S. are imports
from Latin America. The hottest YA titles in Spanish are translations of bestselling
English-language books—especially those with movie adaptations.
The panelists in the PW webinar were Lluvia Agustin, director of Spanish sales,
HarperCollins Español; Edward Benitez, director, U.S. Spanish-language sales, Penguin Random House/Celebra Libros; Diana Calice, manager, Spanish distribution,
Independent Publishers Group; Jaime de Pablos, director, Vintage Español; Jonathan
Blanco, key account manger, HarperCollins Español; and Deyanira Navarrete, account
executive, Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial—USA. After the publishers presented some of their new titles, I took questions from webinar participants. Among
the questions we did not have time to answer were the following:
; What elements make a book in Spanish successful in the U.S.?
Just as with books in English, it is dif;cult to say. It would be unfair to say that one
or two elements determine success—much depends on the publisher’s consumer and
market. Is it primarily selling to the trade? Education? Are consumers familiar with
the author? What will the publisher do to support the book? These are just some of
the important questions. But ;rst and foremost, the book must be well written, and,
if it’s a translation, the translation must be well done.
; Who are the distributors for independent Spanish-language publishers?
There are a number of distributors, and many reach speci;c markets. Among the
best-known distributors are American Book Group, Bilingual Publications, Giron
Books, IPG, Latin American Book Source, Lectorum, La Liberia, and Lorito Books.
; What’s the best way to reach Spanish-language book buyers?
Publishers should start out by talking to distributors and wholesalers. They are well
versed in what sells and in different regions. Since some of the distributors only focus
on one or two sales channels, it would be best to speak to more than one. Just know
that distributors sell books but don’t generate the demand—the same is true for
English-language books. It is up to publishers and authors to promote their books. Too
often, publishers think that if they release a book, it will sell itself; this doesn’t happen
with English-speaking consumers, so don’t expect Hispanic consumers to be different.
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
IN A GROWING MARKET
BY LEYLHA AHUILE