The April publication of Pope Francis’s memoir Vida has brought much attention to HarperCollins, including a visit to the Vatican by the team that brought the book to life. Among those who had an audience with the pope was Judith Curr, president and publisher of HarperOne, the imprint that released the book. Curr also oversees HarperCollins Español (HCE), which is publishing the memoir in Spanish in the U.S.

“That book is going to be a really good test for us,” Curr says. “The Spanish edition may account for as much as 20% of total sales for the book in the U.S.” She notes that Vida will be published in a trade paperback format in Spanish, as opposed to hardcover as it will be in English, to “make the pricing a little bit more accessible.”

Though Pope Francis is from Argentina and a native Spanish speaker, he wrote the book in Italian and it was subsequently translated into English and Spanish for publication in the U.S. The Spanish translation was originally undertaken by a translator in Spain, but then revised by editors Vivianca Castiblanco, who is from Colombia, and Julia Negrete, who is from Mexico, for the U.S. market—a common practice, as diction and colloquialisms in Spanish differ between Spain and the Americas. They, alongside executive editor Edward Benitez, who is from Puerto Rico, comprise the core team at HCE.

Compared to some other divisions at HarperCollins, HCE remains relatively modest, publishing 16–24 books a year, 80% of which are translations of existing HarperCollins titles. There are some 300 titles in its backlist, including perennial HarperCollins bestsellers such as Paolo Coelho’s works and Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Soon, Vida will likely reside among that list of bestsellers, as well.

“You can’t ignore Spanish as a first language for many readers in the United States,” Curr says, adding that HarperCollins is “committed and not dabbling” in Spanish-language publishing. In 2023, the company also launched another Spanish-language imprint, Harper Enfoque, based in Nashville.

Benitez emphasizes the challenges of reaching Spanish-speaking readers. “We have the data, we can pinpoint them,” he says. “They are not only in the big cities, but in Little Rock, Ark.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Alpharetta, Ga.”—places where retailers don’t typically sell Spanish books.

Looking ahead, Curr and Benitez are aiming to give HCE more of an identity within the larger HarperCollins ecosystem. Some of this will come from publishing books distinct from the larger HarperCollins list. To wit, in January, HCE published Spaniard Esther Vivas’s Mama desobediente, a feminist guide to postnatal childcare that has been a bestseller in 15 Latin American countries and in Spain.

“It is very much a book written by a Latina woman for Latina women,” Curr says. “And it’s not in English.”