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Introducing Libranda: Spain’s Big Three Finalize Their Push into Ebooks

Spanish Ebooks

By Emily Williams

The long-awaited e-book platform from Spain’s big three publishers now has a name. At a meeting with booksellers in Madrid on Tuesday, representatives of the new company announced it will be called Libranda, and will offer the biggest selection of e-books in Spanish and Catalán in the world. Libranda will act as a digital distributor with no direct-to-consumer sales, in hopes of preserving the value chain linking publishers to readers through traditional and online booksellers.

In addition to founding partners Planeta, Random House Mondadori, and Santillana, smaller houses Roca Editorial, Wolters Kluwer, SM and Edicions 62 have bought into the company, and the platform will also distribute books from prestigious independents Anagrama, Salamandra and Maeva. Libranda has deals in place to roll out in June with major chain retailers El Corte Inglés, Fnac, Casa del Libro, and Abacus, and named ten indie bookstores across Spain (Cámara, Cervantes, La Central, Laie, Proteo, Machado, Popular, Ochentamundos, Hijos de Santiago Rodríguez, Santos Ochoa) that will also be part of the launch. Participating publishers have the option of negotiating their own retailer discounts individually (Spanish industry blog Divertinajes suggests these will be around 25%) or leaving everything in the hands of the distributor. For now there is no plan to provide e-books to libraries.

Libranda will offer its e-books in ePub format, limited by user and territory with Adobe DRM. The good news: default settings will allow readers who buy e-books to download each title on up to 6 PCs and 6 mobile devices, though individual publishers will be able to set stricter limits if they wish. The bad news: a VAT of 18%. Books in Spain are subject to a lower cultural tax of 4% and the Spanish government had agreed to apply this to e-books as well, but this plan apparently ran afoul of EU policy and the taxes are back up to 18%, the same rate applied to software.

Apart from this pesky EU interference, Libranda is clearly 100% made in Spain, a bid by the heavyweights in Spanish publishing to control their own destiny in the digital future. No mention was made of the big players dominating the international e-book news of late: no Amazon, no Apple, no Google (though, granted, a pitch to the bookselling community is not the most likely forum to announce any potential collaboration with the tech giants). = Libranda plans to provide some digital marketing support, like widgets, that booksellers can use to sell e-books from their websites, but so far there is no news of apps for the iPhone or iPad — which is set to arrive in Spain on May 28th — or other mobile initiatives.

It’s interesting to note just an e-book market can be created at will, essentially from scratch, by the old familiar faces in a book industry the digerati like to characterize as lumbering and retrograde. The fledgling e-book market in Spain is about to get access to the content it has been hungry for, as the arrival of Libranda with its wealth of new titles and bestsellers dwarfs earlier efforts like competing platform 36L or digital publishers Leer-e and Bubok. (Indeed, the Spanish wire service Efe reports that 36L is losing one its biggest clients, Edicions 62, a prominent Catalán publishing group now owned by Planeta, as it has defected to Libranda.)

The introduction of Libranda comes two weeks before Book Expo America in New York shines a spotlight on Spanish publishing. In one of the first events of the Global Market Forum on May 25th, Planeta CEO Jesús Badenes joins Larry Bennett from Baker & Taylor and Patricia Arancibia from BN.com to talk about the e-book markets in Spain and the US. Spain’s own big book event, the reader-oriented Feria del Libro Madrid , then kicks off May 28th, with the launch of Libranda timed to close things out with a bang as the fair wraps up on June 13th.

DISCUSS: Is the EU’s 18% Tax on Spanish E-books Fair?

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9 Comments

  1. Posted May 13, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Many thanks for the update on the launch of the new platform and hardware. Strong reflection of the historical importance and rich history of the bookstore / publishing relationship in Spain. My question would ask if these founding partners will only make their content available on their own e-reader, or if they will by-pass the traditional bookstores and also place “direct to consumer” via Apple / Google and others.
    On this side of the pond we tend too look at it as an additional sales channel, where as this would read they are looking at it as a tool to sustain the bookstores.

  2. Posted May 13, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    The fact that taxation on e-books cannot be the same as taxation of p-books in EU rather surprises me – in Slovenia, which is also part of EU, taxation of books on ddvs or any other e-platforms is the same as taxation of printed books (8%, and the normal VAT is 19%). Would it be possible to get more exact information what was the legal background of this Spanish deccission?

  3. Posted May 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for reading and commenting, both are very good questions. @Miha, the decision to raise the IVA to 18% was made by the Spanish authorities based on their reading of the EU norms. The rationale is that ebooks, as digital products, are considered to fall into the service category rather than as ‘cultural products’ like books, which receive special consideration. There is a lot of debate around this question still, and from what you say it’s evidently not being applied consistently across the EU – again, probably because it was a pre-emptive decision by the Spanish government to comply with their interpretation of the EU norm, rather than a decision forced on them by the EU regulators. That’s about as far as I can explain it, the full extent bureaucratic intricacies are beyond me. (And special thanks here to my Twitter friends @alfaqueque and @gozque for helping me understand this much.)

    @Larry, the plan is not for Libranda to tie readers to its own device, like Amazon. On the contrary, Libranda is not designed to have any direct interaction with consumers, and their choice of the standard ePub format was to make the ebooks they distribute available on as wide a number of devices as possible.

  4. Posted May 13, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    I see that they are going to do some region DRM. Does that mean books will not be available in the US? It would be great to be able to buy Spanish language books with out the extra shipping costs.

  5. Posted May 14, 2010 at 3:12 am | Permalink

    Great Post. Im from Spain, i have a Kindle, and a lot of people too. Libranda havent ebooks for Amazon. I think libranda makes a mistake.

  6. Posted May 14, 2010 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    The launch of Libranda has had a fairly large impact in the media yesterday. Congratulations four your sources as you’re the only one that has mentioned which are the bookshops that will adopt the plataform in this early stage and that the platform will also distribute ebooks of publishers outside their group such as Anagrama, Salamandra and Maeva. I’m surprised with Anagrama as Herralde has always shown quite skeptical in public going digital.

    No doubt much remains to be learned about this new platform and how it will integrate with existing platforms of the own bookstores.

  7. Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    @Paul, there hasn’t been any news so far regarding ebooks in the US, but I would imagine it depends on whether the publishers have the rights to sell any given title here. The DRM limitations by territory generally reflect limitations on territorial rights owned by the publishing house. If the publisher acquired World Spanish rights in theory I don’t see any reason you wouldn’t be able to purchase the ebook, but again that’s unconfirmed speculation.

  8. Posted May 14, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Auto publicacion

    Vamos a hablar del tema de auto publicación que es una nueva tendencia y posiblemente llegara a ser una nueva forma de comunicación. Pasar por editores, casas editoriales, hacer frente a muchos gastos sin garantía de resultados es suficiente par amuchas personas de frenarse a la hora de querer compartir su talento, experiencia y/o conocimientos.
    La posibilidad que ofrece páginas web como la de clicbooks.com abre una nueva era de comunicación, como la que podría ser la que paso con la proliferación de los MP3 hace unos años. Esta sucediendo una tendencia similar para la publicación de libros en las redes. Se puede dar el caso de personas que quieren publicar una obra pero que por métodos convencionales se han visto parados por completo. Ahora, lo tienen más fácil. Dominando un programa de Word, luego PDF, algo de diseño ya puede poner a la venta su libro a coste cero.
    De hecho, la edición libre permite una libertad de acción en el plan de marketing y tener un control total sobre el contenido del libro. Eso quiere decir que cuando se publica, no se puede cambiar nada del contenido ni del título. El libro conserva su autenticidad, calidad en la escritura. Los autores por lo tanto, pueden utilizar las plataformas de libros electrónicos como clicBook.com para subir sus obras. Este sitio me llamó la atención por su adaptación a nivel internacional y la originalidad de su contenido. clicBook está traducido en cuatro idiomas (Inglés, francés, español y alemán) y las obras propuestas tienen una connotación de la ayuda personal en varias áreas. De hecho, los autores reportan un asesoramiento de calidad, compartiendo la experiencia personal en área como deportes, salud, éxito profesional, el estilo, las relaciones humanas, con el fin de dar respuestas concretas a las preguntas que muchas personas se hacen y sin tener respuesta.
    Este es un concepto que atrae a muchos autores, ya que puede ahora transmitir a los lectores la autenticidad de sus ideas, casi un contacto directo entre autor, y lector.

  9. Posted November 25, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your site in internet explorer, could check this? IE still is the market chief and a huge component of other folks will miss your magnificent writing because of this problem.

7 Trackbacks

  1. By Is the EU’s 18% Tax on Spanish Ebooks Fair? on May 13, 2010 at 7:59 am

    [...] lead story discusses the launch of Libranda, Spain’s new e-book distribution platform. Along with the announcement is the news that e-books will be charged at the same tax rate as [...]

  2. [...] Won’t Help You in the US May 14, 2010 bythefirelight Leave a comment Go to comments Publishing Perspectives has a good article on Spain’s three biggest publishers (and many smaller ones) that have [...]

  3. [...] El top 10 dels 10 milions de llibres descarregats per a Sony Reader by elenaranda on 15/05/2010 A Espanya els editors van enllestint diferents plataformes per a comercialitzar el llibre digital (dels més consolidats projectes d’Edi.cat o Leqtor, als que tot just estan sortint de comptes com Libranda, que uneix les forces de  Planeta, Santillana i Mondadori; i ja ha atret l’atenció d’especialistes com els de Publishing Perspectives). [...]

  4. [...] in Madrid. Most of the information presented confirmed reports leaked last month (and covered by us here), but the press conference today did fill in a number of [...]

  5. By Evening Links 10 June 2010 | The Digital Reader on June 10, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    [...] in Madrid. Most of the information presented confirmed reports leaked last month (and covered by us here), but the press conference today did fill in a number of [...]

  6. [...] markets have seen collaborative e-book distribution platforms launch within the last year: Libranda launched Spain; in Italy Rizzoli, Feltrinelli and Gruppo Gems developed the E-digita platform; a [...]

  7. [...] book industry moves slowly and cautiously. The e-bookstore Libranda, created a few months ago by the major Spanish publishers, has largely failed as a result of its [...]

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