Business Opportunities for Canadian Publishers

The final post in our series on the Spanish book market offers some valuable advice on the business opportunities available to Canadian publishers looking to sell their books in Spain.

Translate your Books into Spanish and Sell in Ebook Format

The audience for an ebook is not comprised solely of the readers of the publisher’s geographical area but, rather, by all readers who understand the language, whether or not it is their first language and no matter where they live.

The Spanish book market is huge—in fact, it is the world’s second largest. There are over 500 million people who speak Spanish, and 50 million of them live in the United States. In recent years, sales of tablets and extended audiences and availability of rights have increased enough that publishing ebooks in Spanish has become a business of huge economic potential.

The international expansion of a publishing business in producing titles in other languages allows a new profitability from its existing catalogue: it could earn new revenue from titles that have exhausted their publishing life in their current language and/or locations or whose rights have not been able to sell to foreign publishers.

Books in Spanish in the United States

The number of titles available in Spanish in the United States has tripled in recent years in online stores. Sales are still only 5% of the US total, although they are experiencing rapid growth.

In 2010, there were barely 10,000 printed Spanish titles available for sale in the United States. Currently, there are over 70,000 titles available in Spanish. The traction gained by the Spanish language is such that in 2012 Barnes & Noble opened the Nook Books in Spanish section of its site, and Amazon quickly followed, launching “Libros en Español”. Today, Amazon.com is also benefiting from the contracts signed by its Spanish division, so it has even more titles available. A foreign bookstore like the Argentinian BajaLibros.com has even opened shop in the United States, with a catalogue of 50,000 books.

We see foreign language sales growing, the stagnation of books in English notwithstanding. According to Amazon, their 2013 sales were 40% higher than the previous year.

The Digital Market in Latin America

The emerging Latin American ebook markets are preparing for explosive growth. In its 2013 report El libro en cifras, Vol. 4, the Regional Center for Book Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLALC) gives data to show that a major transformation in the Latin American book market is on the horizon:

  • Of the five global regions, Latin America registered the fastest online audience growth with a yearly rate of 12%, surpassing the 147 million unique visitors in March 2013.
  • Title ISBNS registered in 2012 grew in number by 8.2% over the previous year.
  • The number of published titles in all formats in the first half of 2013 amounted to 78,925, a 5.6% drop from the same period in 2012. Brazil is responsible for this decrease, as the country went from 37,695 titles in 2012 to 32,025 in 2013. This decrease does not offset the increases in Argentina and Mexico.
  • Forty-two percent of these titles come from commercial publishers, while university presses are responsible for 14%, and the remainder, up to 30%, are from non-commercial entities.
  • Brazil (42%), Argentina (17%), Mexico (17%), and Colombia (8%) accounted for 82% of everything published in Latin America in the first half of 2013.
  • 16.7% of the published titles are also available in digital format. Although the percentage still seems small, it is worth noting that the trend is up, and there are huge increases in the number of readers who claim to read in electronic devices, which suggests a huge transformation of the reading habits.

Therefore the future of books in Spanish in Latin America relies on two important factors: digital publishing on the one hand, and print on-demand on the other.

For more expert advice on how to reach the Spanish market, download our full market guide.

03/22/2016 | Export, Market Guides, Rights