By Andres Hax
In this time of the year it would be impossible to speak of the publishing industry in general, and the Spanish language one in particular, without mentioning the two major international trade shows soon to take place: LIBER, in Madrid running from October 5-7; and, of course, the Frankfurt Book Fair from October 12-16.
For the Spanish language market there are four major trade events that mark the year: The Buenos Aires International Book Fair, held every April, then the two aforementioned European fairs, and the Guadalajara International Book Fair taking place in November and December. Although there are numerous other regional events, such as the International Book Fair in Santiago, Chile, which opens at the end of October, most of the international trade activity revolves around the major events.
This year’s LIBER is taking place in uncertain times, with a presidential election looming in the midst of a terrible economic crisis. E-books are major focus’ of this year’s LIBER, with the LIBER Digital program reflecting the growing influence of the digital marketplace on Spanish publishing.
Ironically, perhaps, it is in Frankfurt, rather than Madrid, where Latin American publishers, editors and agents trade focus their most intense efforts. From a Latin American perspective this year’s fair in Frankfurt can be seen as a transitional one, as last year the Guest of Honor was Argentina and next year’s will be Brazil (with Iceland being the Guest of Honor this year). The Spanish publishing world in Frankfurt is traditionally centered in Hall 5, and offers a one-stop destination for may of the top editors, agents, authors and publishers attending the Fair.
In recent years Latin America has undergone a considerable shift from being almost exclusively a “buyers market” to one selling everything from rights to translation services into the European and US market. To take one example, Argentina has been making a concerted effort to emphasize that it has become “a major player in the Spanish publishing world,” according to the Camara Argentina del Libro (The Argentine Book Trade Commission).
The fact that the editorial market in Spain and that in Latin America are not synonymous – culturally or economically — is one of the key issues that we will be examining in future issues of this newsletter.