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Spanish, like English, is spoken and read by millions of native speakers in many countries spread across different continents. It is the second most studied and the third most spoken language on the planet (Mandarin and English being the only ones larger). However, the Spanish-language and English-language markets are very different, and the digital disruption seems to have accentuated those differences.
The Spanish-language publishing industry has developed with a great concentration of rights-holding—and therefore commercial control—in one country, Spain, where the “big three” (Planeta, Santillana, Random House Mondadori) have their headquarters, despite the fact that the Latin American countries in the aggregate are a much bigger potential market with hundreds of millions of readers. Mexico alone has a population of 115 million, while the US is home to 55 million Hispanics, and Spain, with a population of 47 million, is closer to the sizes of Colombia and Argentina.
While ebook conversion and reading have taken off in English, the adoption has been much slower in Spanish. Availability, of course, is key. While ebookstores often offer about 3 million titles in ePub in English, there are hardly more than 75,000 titles available in Spanish counting free titles and PDFs. It would appear that, like in English, growth in ebooks in Spanish-language markets could spawn translations into Spanish by publishers who originally publish in other languages to enter the market themselves.
A panel of top Spanish-language publishing executives will talk about why ebooks have been slower to take hold in Spanish, what the future holds, and whether the historical dominance of Spain itself for global Spanish-language publishing is likely to continue or will be eroded by the forces of digital change.