By Publishing Perpectives
Digital publishing is gaining an ever-greater foothold in Latin America and, despite its lag in both reading rates and digitization of content, Mexico is leading the way. This week through Friday, Mexico City is playing host to the Electronic Book International Symposium, which has drawn an impressive roster of speakers and presenters from across the Spanish-speaking world.
The Electronic Book Symposium is vital for the future of e-books in Mexico; trade publishers are only now considering including digital sales figures in their annual statistical reports.
“Definitely publishers have a great concern about this transition, and we are full of doubts and fears,” Victorico Albores, president of the National Chamber of the Mexican Publishing Industry, told the Associated Press.
The Symposium, held at the National Museum of History and Anthropology, is focusing more on academic subtleties than commercial value. The shadow of Amazon will, however briefly, looming over the event, as Pedro Huerta, director of Kindle Content for Latin America, is one of the keynote speakers.
Working with CERLALC — the Regional Center for the Advancement of the Book in Latin America and the Caribbean — Mexico is attempting to lead the push towards a common digital platform for the whole of Spanish-speaking Latin America. It is a hugely ambitious goal, considering the political and economic complexities of the region, its scattered book industries and the growing fragmentation of e-reading services and platforms.
News of bold changes in the Mexican book ecosystem is often associated with the name of Consuelo Sáizar, formerly the Editorial Director of Fondo de Cultura Económica and presently the head of the powerful Conaculta (National Endowment for the Advancement of the Arts and Culture). Saizar has also been the president of CERLALC since 2010, and is one of the key speakers at the onging Symposium.
Saizar told the press that when she arrived at F.C.E. in 2002 “there was no electronic support for any book, not even one,” referring to its backlist of 10,000 titles. According to Joaquín Díaz-Canedo, General Manager of the publishing house, 2,500 of those titles have since been digitized. Since her arrival at Conaculta in 2009, Saizar has pushed heavily for an increased focus on digital publishing within the government institution’s agenda.