Alex Correa, president of Lectorum Publications, the large independent distributor of Spanish-language books in the U.S., hosted a breakfast at the Guadalajara Book Fair to bring together librarians and Lectorum’s Spanish publisher partners. Lectorum is the publisher of the Dr. Seuss books in Spanish and in an interview, Correa said that sales of Green Eggs and Ham or Huevos Verdes con Jamon have surpassed 200,000 in the U.S. Correa’s goal is to introduce Seuss to Latin America starting with Mexico, Columbia, and Chile. The main customers are schools and libraries due to the economics of most Latin American countries, which is also the explanation for the slow growth of digital. In the U.S., Correa believes the interest in Spanish-language--because of the many Spanish speakers and the importance of being bilingual in a shrinking competitive world --will mean a renaissance for the Spanish language. States like California, Texas, Florida, New Mexico and Arizona are givens, but interest in Spanish and bilingual education is also prevalent now in New Jersey, Utah, Colorado and as far north as Washington State. And the study of Spanish is making inroads in countries like Brazil and even into Asia. Lectorum has 150 books in Spanish available in the U.S. market, and he said that there is a great library demand. “Books in Spanish,” Correa says, “have momentum.”
At a lunch given by the fair, there was an interesting mix of librarians. Christine Nelson is the librarian for a federal prison in New Mexico where most of the prisoners are deportable aliens who are Spanish speaking. Her budget, she said, is about $1,000 a year and most of the prisoners are in the prison for six months to five years. Myra Appel from UC Davis, said that many Hispanic students use Spanish-language books and Paloma Celis Carbanjal from the University of Wisconsin at Madison agreed, citing that they were both working with academic collections, although they did buy original texts.
Another group of librarians in the public sector from San Antonio, Arlington, Vir., Washington, D.C. and Denver explained that when they first bought Spanish-language titles they bought a wide variety, but with most of the classics in their collections, they focused on new releases in the last year. There was one uplifting comment about buying a new collection of Shakespeare because the one in the library was read to tatters.