Market Focus: Inside the Hispanic Book Market
At the same time, Arte Público's imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is seeing increased interest. Kanellos says sales of bilingual children's picture books and middle readers have grown because the publisher "is basing all of these books on the language actually spoken here by Latinos, and on cultural background and situations as lived by Latinos in the United States."
Retail: Supporting the Growth
There's more work to be done to realize the true potential of this market segment, and the recession, shrinking distribution channels and increasing amount of free, online content haven't helped, says Michael Norris, lead trade book publishing analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Simba Information.
Another hindrance to the market's growth is a shortage of Hispanic-focused retail support, says Kanellos. "Due to the lack of Hispanic bookstores and distributors in Latino communities, much of this potential market is not addressed," he says. "If Spanish-language newspapers are any indication, the market could be very large. Hispanic newspapers are booming, even while English-language dailies are losing their readers, cutting back and/or going under."
"[As a retailer], you also need to go to where they are and not wait for them to come to the usual suspects," Reza says, such as mass-market bookstores.
While Kanellos agrees that publishers could benefit from a larger presence of Hispanic bookstores and distributors in Latino communities, Norris points out that independent bookstores are struggling in all segments, as big-box stores continue to push out smaller booksellers.
He also suggests that "the thing that's really working in favor [of the Hispanic book publishing segment] is that the retailers like Barnes & Noble and Borders, and even independent stores … are expanding their shelves to make room for these titles; they're boasting about their selections; and there are basically more retailers now than, say, four or five years ago [that are] even carrying these books and serving this group," he says.