By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief
This September will see the launch of Orbile, a new Mexican ebookselling platform jointed created by Kobo, bookstore chain Gandhi (with 30 stores), and Mexican publisher and retailer Libreria Porrúa, which has some 70 bookstores.
Orbile will offer some 70,000 Spanish-language titles at launch, and Kobo-branded ereaders will be offered on sale at the parter bookstores and retail outlets.
The launch of the new platform is a curious move for Gandhi in particular, which as recently as 2013 had distributed Kindles in partnership with Amazon and earlier expressed ambitions to launch its own international platform emphasizing independent publishers. Gandhi currently operates its own proprietary ebookstore, as well as a self-publishing platform.
The move is just the latest bit of evidence demonstrating Mexico’s growing importance as a hub for Spanish-language publishers and book distribution. As Spanish-language publishing consultant Javier Celaya told Publishing Perspectives last week, “due to its proximity, Mexico will lead Latin America in the digital revolution.”
Nevertheless, across Mexico and Latin Americca, ebooks comprise just 1% of all book sales. Limited internet access and lack of ereaders (not to mention low literacy rates nationwide) have so far inhibited the industry’s further growth.
According to Manuel Dávila Galindo Olivares, Manager of Digital Content at Gandhi, who spoke to Publishing Perspectives at last year’s FIL Guadalajara, the company remains confident they can out-run Amazon and he insists that those who do read in Mexico are voracious readers. He said last year that a third of the orders placed on Gandhi.com are mixed orders — comprised of both print books and ebooks — which suggests that ebooks are not replacing physical books; they’re supplementing them and people are simply reading more. He remains hopeful that the ebook may actually help promote literacy in Mexico.
On the new partnership, Rodrigo Pérez-Porrúa, sales director of Porrúa, said: “With this partnership, Porrúa continues to honor its philosophy: ‘culture within everyone’s reach,’ which is now enriched with the inclusion of new tools that allow people to have access to the universe of e-books. As one of the oldest and most renowned book companies in the country, we are thrilled to keep finding ways to make available for everyone what we are most passionate about: books.”