The Latino Market: Tongue Twister
Arte Público works with schools and libraries to develop bilingual teaching materials. But when Kanellos says bilingual, he doesn't mean half the book sounds like a New Yorker wrote it and the other half reads like the King of Spain chimed in. "We specifically bring children's books with cultures as expressed and manifested 'in the U.S.'" The books reflect the lives of Latino children living here now, and though it isn't possible to write different versions of each—one for Chicanos in Texas, another for Cubans in Miami, a third for Nuyoricans—"we market all of our books [across] the nation. Latino kids learning to read in grades K-3 should have exposure to how kids are in San Antonio."
Though Kanellos is disheartened by school budget cuts and library closures, he sees something positive on the horizon: "The future," he says, "is going to be digital."
A New Age
In 2008, Aurora-Anaya Cerda opened an online bookstore, La Casa Azul. Not the best time to start selling books of Latino interest via a website, you might think. In fact, Cerda did so well, she was able to open a bricks-and-mortar store two months ago in Manhattan. "So far it's been wonderful," Cerda says. "We've had a great response from the Latino community and from non-Latinos who find out about the store."
Cerda knew something that non-Latinos—from pundits to politicians to people on the street—have a hard time believing: Hispanics are online.
Of Latinos 16 and older who were born here, 85 percent go online and 80 percent have cell phones. The numbers drop for foreign-born Latinos, but there are still more than half who are connected—and there are pragmatic reasons for this. A lot of people have family far away; having a blog or a Tumblr or a Facebook page allows them to stay in touch.