Market Focus: Inside the Hispanic Book Market
Generally, the human experience translates into any language. For instance, "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne was the top Spanish-language hardcover title sold through Baker & Taylor in 2008 and so far in 2009.
The book, which debuted in 2006, is an example of Hillsboro, Ore.-based Beyond Words Publishing's new approach to this market segment, says Richard Cohn, the company's founder and publisher.
"Beyond Words is acutely aware of the increasing market share for Spanish-language titles in the United States," he says. "In the past, we would license the Spanish-language rights to our titles to publishers in Spain, Mexico or Latin America. Now, we endeavor to publish new titles both in Spanish and English for North America and license Spanish-language editions abroad.
"'The Secret' is a perfect example," Cohn continues. "Together with our partner, Atria Books of Simon & Schuster, we published the book in English and then brought out the Spanish-language edition, 'El Secreto.' We also created a four-CD audio version, as well as [companion book 'The Secret Gratitude Book'], in both languages."
Know Your Audience
"The challenge is finding the right message and medium to promote titles for each segment," says John Reza, owner of Librería Martinez bookstore in Lynwood, Calif. "Additionally, [the challenge is] knowing which region of Mexico or Latin America that the [reader] is from. Spanish speakers from Miami, most likely, have different backgrounds and needs than Spanish speakers from Los Angeles or Chicago. Selecting the right material to publish, creating the right message and providing the appropriate sales and marketing support is critical."
Kanellos says publishers who are reacting with the most gusto to the Hispanic market "are the large, commercial publishers of textbooks for the lower and middle grades. But, unfortunately, quite often they produce books that are straight translations of their material in English that do not relate to the culture of Hispanic children."