The Latino Market: Tongue Twister
So why not market to those who aren't native Spanish readers? "Hispanics born in the U.S. grow up and are educated in English," DePablos says, "and tend to have a harder time reading in Spanish."
Interestingly, the largest publisher and distributor of Spanish-language books in the country is the children's publisher Scholastic, so perhaps Latino kids of the future will be buying Vintage Español books. According to Jazan Higgins, Vice President of Cross Company Strategy at Scholastic Trade Publishing, the Scholastic En Español imprint publishes 50 to 70 books a year.
"A small percentage are bilingual—about four to five a year, and the rest in translation," Higgins says, via email. "Meanwhile, in English, one of our ongoing initiatives is to grow the number of Latino authors across our list. Recent publications include the just-launched Border Town series by Malin Alegria; 'The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano,' the first novel by Sonia Manzano (the actress who plays Maria on Sesame Street); 'Choke' by Diana López in fall 2012; and on our Summer 2013 list, 'Take a Chance, Chica' by Angela Cervantes."
Scholastic was also a sponsor this year of the Latino Book Awards. All of this is very canny, given the youth of the Latino demographic.
"With a burgeoning population of Latinos whose median age is in the early 20s, and the majority of the population under 15 and growing, the greatest area of activity [in Latino publishing] we're seeing is in education," says Nicolás Kanellos, Director of Arte Público Press, the largest purveyor of bilingual children's books. In explaining why the market is so fertile, Kanellos throws out a list of big cities—New York, L.A., all the usual suspects. "The major school systems in the major cities are over 50 percent Hispanic," he says. That's a lot of kids who need books.