By Edward Nawotka
Digital is a hot topic at this year’s Buenos Aires Book Fair. The event’s professional program opened with a presentation by Bob Stein, of the Center for the Future of the Book, discussing digital innovation and a new pavilion featuring tablets, e-readers and mobile phones highlights opportunities for Argentines to delve into e-books. The American government has erected a booth featuring several Kindle e-readers, iPads (Gen 1) and Sony Tablets, while the local mobile phone and Internet provider Telefónica is touting recent deal with e-book distributor Publidisa to provide 25,000 e-books in Spanish to users via its Movistar brand.
Unfortunately, as many have noted in BA, the titles available appear to be of little relevance to many Argentine readers, as they are largely limited to academic theses and public domain works from Spain that are being sold at extremely high prices (some go for as much as 20 euros or more). That said, publishers participating in Publidisa’s program include Everest, McGraw, Algaida, Harlequin, Profit-Amat, RBA, Pearson, Encuentro, Rialp o Maeva.
Perhaps the most interesting development thus far has been the presence of Mark Nelson, strategic partner manager and international lead for Google, who offered an animated presentation to a packed room of Argentine publishers touting the company’s Google Book Search program and soliciting partners. Asked by Publishing Perspectives if Google was planning to launch a Spanish-language version of the site, Nelson would only confirm that the company will launch Google Books in a language other than English “soon,” but would not confirm that the language would be Spanish. His presence here at the Fair suggests it is a strong possibility.