E-books Show a Slow, Steady Rise in Latin America

In Spanish World Book News by Andres Hax

This article is from Spanish World Book News, stories from across Latin America and Spain for English-language readers, a cooperation between Publishing Perspectives and the Fundación El Libro in Argentina.

By Andres Hax

A recent article in iEco, the economic supplement of Buenos Aires’ Clarín newspaper, outlines the progress of the e-book in the Latin American marketplace.

The salient facts:

  • Unlike in the US, where a few major players such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple, have come to dominate the industry, e-books are almost exclusively produced and sold direct to consumers by individual publishing houses.
  • No surprise here: The main attraction for early adopters of e-books is price, which is approximately 30% less expensive than paper counterparts.
  • The Kindle is not readily accessible, as there are import restrictions in many countries against for the device.
  • A Spanish reader called Papyre, designed especially for Spanish-language texts, has made good headway in Latin American markets, although there are no firm sales numbers publicly available.

In an interview last year, Juan González de la Cámara, CEO of Grammata, the developer of the Papyre, noted that one of his priorities for the device was having it work equally well with DRM books, as well as open source or copyright-free books. What makes the device unique is that it accounts for differences in the Spanish alphabet, such as accents and the letter Ñ, as well as end-line word breaks, which in Spanish are always divided syllabically.

“The business model for the e-book in Latin America is still not clear,” said Sebastián Ansaldi, the chief of marketing of the publishing house Planeta. “What we do know is that paper is still the number one priority for editorial houses, nevertheless no one is prepared to say for how long.”

According to Argentine online bookstore Librería Santa Fe, the top selling e-books are bestsellers, followed by academic texts.

About the Author

Andres Hax