Market Focus: Inside the Hispanic Book Market
Since 2000, when the U.S. Hispanic population recorded noticeable growth, many publishers have been learning to cater to this segment's divergent needs.
Illustrating that point, Jamie Carter, operations manager for Publisher Alley—a division of Baker & Taylor that tracks book sales—says that, overall, Spanish-language book sales are increasing, thanks mostly to significant growth in the children's category. Children's hardcover and paperback sales increased 28.1 percent and 40.6 percent, respectively, from 2008 to 2009. While adult paperback sales have increased 2.5 percent during the same time period, hardcover sales decreased 5.4 percent.
A Big Market for Libraries
For Spanish-language titles, Bennett says, public libraries play a huge role in the market's growth.
"I expect the general market for books in Spanish to continue to grow, based on the population growth, and public libraries will continue to have [a] 30- to 40-percent share," Bennett predicts.
Parents interested in teaching their children about their language and their culture find that an early introduction is better, as their children steadily lose interest in the Spanish language while attending English-speaking schools.
Meanwhile, schools are beginning to buy Spanish-language fiction and nonfiction titles as teaching tools, he says.
Nicolás Kanellos, Ph.D., director of University of Houston-based Arte Público Press, says that educators have realized the need for Hispanic-centric materials like children's literature, language-arts books and books in bilingual formats. "This trend will last a long time because of Hispanics having the youngest median age of any part of the U.S. population," he predicts.
What's Hot in Adult Trade Books?
Spanish-language books that are popular among Hispanic adults usually match those popular among the general population, although titles in the self-help genre reflect cultural variances—especially concerning citizenship—Bennett says.
"Nonfiction books on topics that will help newly arrived families begin their life in the United States" are popular for Rayo, the Spanish-language imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, says spokeswoman Erin Crum. These consumers are particularly interested in self-help books with a personal finance focus, she says.