As Spanish-language publishing begins to gain a higher profile in the U.S., a number of recent events highlight how the market is adapting.
Biblioteca Breve 2013 Award
Barcelona’s Rosa Regàs won the prestigious Biblioteca Breve award on March 5 with her novel Música de cámara (Chamber Music), a powerful love story that takes place in Barcelona during the 1950s. Rosa Regàs is one of Spain’s most distinguished writers and has won numerous literary awards. The Biblioteca Breve is presented by Seix Barral, part of the Planeta publishing group. For Regàs, life has come full circle; she worked as an editor at Seix Barral from 1964 to 1970—this might be her sweetest award. The book is due out in April.
Alfaguara 2013 Award
The recipient of the Premio Alfaguara 2013 (Alfaguara novel prize) was announced on March 20 in Madrid. This year’s recipient of the prestigious literary award is José Ovejero from Spain. La invención del amor (The Invention of Love) was chosen from among 802 manuscripts submitted, the most ever received by Alfaguara. This unconventional love story was described by Manuel Rivas, head of the selecting judges, as a novel that “reveals the transformative power of the imagination and its ability to construct new existences.”
Changes at FIL
Early in March, Nubia Macías resigned as the director of the Guadalajara Book Fair (FIL), a position she held for 10 years. During Macías’s tenure, FIL became a required event for book professionals interested in the global Spanish-language book market, which includes the 55 million Hispanics living in the U.S. She created the Rights Center, which now hosts over 120 literary agents, and expanded the cultural program to include more than 550 authors. A journalist by training, she made sure that journalists were also part of the mix; 1,900 journalists covered the 2012 fair.
FIL is the largest Spanish-language book fair in the world and the second largest book fair after Frankfurt. The FIL is a professional event, but also a festival that is open to the public and hosts over 700,000 visitors. FIL’s U.S. representative, David Unger, described his experience working with Macías: “What made Nubia such a great director was the support she gave to her team. And it is this autonomy which will ensure the continued growth of the fair under new leadership.”
On April 1, a new chapter begins for FIL. Marisol Schulz, current director of LéaLA, the largest Spanish-language book fair in the U.S., has been appointed to lead FIL (see p. 11). Schulz is well-known and respected in the Ibero-American publishing industry. She has more than 30 years of experience, including her time as executive editor at Santillana Mexico and later editorial director of trade. For the time being, Schulz will continue to oversee LéaLA, scheduled for May 17–19, 2013, in Los Angeles.
Linda Goodman, owner of the Bilingual Publications Company, is bringing her 30 years of experience as a distributor of Spanish-language books for the library market to the world of e-books. Aware that the major e-book provider to libraries in the U.S. was somewhat lacking in Spanish-language content, Goodman, in partnership with Bookmasters, formed E-Blioteca, and will work with Library Ideas, the media company, to bring e-books to libraries. Goodman has begun selecting a high-quality collection based on the expressed needs of librarians. Currently working with more than a dozen publishers, E-Blioteca will officially launch during BookExpo. About Library Ideas, Goodman says, “What appeals to me about their model is their unique approach to selling e-books. They do not require an upfront payment on the part of libraries. The libraries will only pay as readers download the books.”
Literature in a Flash
Given that U.S. Hispanics are acquiring more tablets and e-readers than non-Hispanics in the U.S., Spain’s Random House Mondadori’s line of Spanish-language mini e-books is bound to find customers on this side of the Atlantic. The Flash series, given its name for the immediacy it gives its readers, features fiction stories by big-name authors, both in original Spanish and in translation, for $1.99 a download. The digital imprint was launched in Spain and Latin America last spring and is now being promoted in the U.S. Says Carmen Ospina, RHM’s director of digital strategy and international business development for Spain and Latin America, “Readers are also changing their habits and we need to respond. Book publishers are competing more and more with shorter forms of content that demand less time (e.g., magazines, newspapers, online journals, Twitter, etc.) and that can be consumed quicker without necessarily losing in quality. An imprint like RHM Flash allows us to reach this collective and remain relevant as book publishers.”
Random House Mondadori
In December of last year, Bertelsmann acquired 100% ownership of Random House Mondadori. Random House now owns all of the shares in Random House Mondadori, its trade book publisher in Spain and Latin America. Random House Mondadori was formed as a 50/50 joint venture in 2001 by Random House and Mondadori. Bertelsmann purchased Mondadori’s equity stake in the Barcelona-based publisher on behalf of Random House. The acquisition has not affected Mondadori’s offering of Spanish-language books in the U.S.
● Mi mundo adorado (My Beloved World) by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor sold 4,000 copies during its first week of release.
● El Papa Francisco (The Franciscan Pope) by Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti, not out until April by Ediciones B/Spanish Publishers, has sold 8,000 pre-pub copies in the U.S. in five days.
● Planeta has pulled off one of the most ambitious sales goals for a book in Spanish in the U.S. Nada que perder (Nothing to Lose) by Edir Macedo sold 72,169 in one day at McNally Jackson Books in Manhattan (copies could be pre-ordered and shipped to customers). Planeta had planned the event for February 9, but snow storm Nemo forced its postponement to February 16. Still, the wintery cold did not deter thousands of followers of Macedo, one of the most prominent evangelists in the world, from attending.