Having released, among other big hits, The Hunger Games series, The Fault in Our Stars, and the Divergent series, Patrizia Campana, editorial director of the children's division at Planeta's Catalan division, Grup 62, is no stranger to publishing bestsellers. Nonetheless, she said one of her main goals is figuring out how to "make money publishing in a minority language."
The Catalan region of northeastern Spain is home to about 7 million people. However, with only half of the region's population counting Catalan as their mother tongue and the majority of inhabitants speaking both Spanish and Catalan, Grup 62 must target consumers who "read and buy books indifferently in both languages."
Because of the unusual language breakdown in the region, Catalan publishers, in Campana's mind, face two major hurdles. The first is publishing for a relatively small market, which results in modest print runs and marketing budgets. The second challenge is being able to "compete in the same territory with the Spanish language."
"A Catalan publisher knows that the potential public can read in Spanish, so if we want to have a chance to sell a book in Catalan we have to offer at least the same quality of the Spanish publisher," she said. This means that Catalan houses--which often publish the same title on a smaller budget than their Spanish competitors--still need to match the bigger houses on most fronts. To avoid losing potential readers to the Spanish edition, Catalan houses need to try to release their edition on the same day as the Spanish one. Catalan publishers also need to match Spanish houses on price and available formats.
She says price matching can be especially tricky. Although Catalan publishers don't necessarily spend more money translating books than their Spanish competitors, they are usually publishing titles in smaller print runs. For this reason, being competitive on price points can be tough.
There are bright spots, though. Bookstores in Catalonia play an important role, she said, noting that the booksellers "treat us very well, positioning our editions on the same shelf with the Spanish ones." And there are the successes. Campana's particularly proud of Grup 62's edition of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, released in 2009. The Catalan edition has sold more copies than the Spanish one, having picked up a local literary award and adoption in the school market. "While it hasn't been huge," Campana noted, "we are selling it quite well, even after five years."