On a yearly basis, the Cultural lab “Mexico-España” and the Santillana Foundation join forces to organize a forum, the goal of which is to focus reflection on a specific field in the arts.
Many experts gathered at the hall of the European Institute of Design (IED) in Madrid last Thursday (May 12) to discuss bookstores. Despite the romanticism that surrounds these places, they are maybe the ones paying the highest price in the evolution of the entire book value chain.
The conversation opened with a call for transparency by Arantza Larrauri from Libranda, the major distributor of digital content in Spanish. The company has recently published a study on ebooks.
What the research can’t tell us, of course, is the size of the self-publishing market because Amazon and other major online retailers don’t disclose their sales figures. This is not a minor fact, considering the volume of Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in Spanish, which is estimated by some (without confirmation) to come to some 100,000 or more titles and to account for some 30 percent of Amazon Spanish-language ebook sales.
Despite the controversy about the actual market share of self-publishing, both Iría Álvarez, who is responsible for digital development at Penguin Random House, and David Sánchez, from the subscription service 24symbols, agreed that they see it as a huge opportunity for the future. PRH has placed a big bet on self-publishing with its Me gusta escribir project and 24Symbols, Sanchez said, is happy with its agreement with the US platform Draft2Digital, which provides content in English.
The real surprise, though, was that Amazon was not demonized as it usually is.
Larrauri and Álvarez said they recognized Amazon for having helped speed up digitization in the Spanish-speaking world. Some 30 percent of publishers of content in Spanish are said to have not yet digitized their content. This is part of the reason the industry still faces piracy. Public libraries, with their renewed and stronger offer, could play a leading role in fostering a new awareness among Spanish readers, but what’s missing at the moment, the speakers said, is awareness of legal digital services.