Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spanish-language Publishing World Shifts Center

By Claudio Iván Remeseira Follow @HispanicNewYork | Posted Sun., May 25, 2014, at 11:45 a.m.ET.
Coming Soon to a Bookstore (?) Near You.
With the purchase of the Spanish company Santillana by Penguin Random House (PRH), the global printing giant created last year by the merger of Bertelsmann and Pearson Group's book division, the Spanish-language publishing world becomes more concentrated than ever-especially in Latin America, the largest market for Spanish-language authors. 

A few key points:

- This purchase was a news foretold. Santillana's previous owner, Prisa Group (owner also of the Spanish daily El País) is in deep financial trouble and had already announced that was selling its publishing division (It will retain Santillana's highly profitable educational imprint, though). Nevertheless, it makes momentous news because of the significance of Santillana's literary catalog. 

- Through the acquisition of this catalog, PRH owns now the bulk of the 1960s Latin American boom, including Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Julio Cortázar, and Carlos Fuentes, as well as the work of Jorge Luis Borges, several Cervantes Awards (Juan Marsé, Jorge Edwards, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Sergio Pitol) and several Spanish National Literary Awards, such as Javier Cercas an Javier Marías. The list of Spanish-language bestsellers includes also Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel, Arturo Pérez-Reverte, and Quino, among many others.

- This has a cultural as well as a business implication: most Spanish-language literature is no longer published by companies from Spanish-language countries. Globalization has come full circle.

- The only Spanish-language publishing giant standing is Grupo Planeta. But its reach will be mostly restricted to Spain. 

- This also marks the end of the decades-long Spain-centric character of the Spanish-language publishing industry. Whether the shift from peninsular dominance to the dominance of a multinational corporation will be good or bad for Latin American writers remains to be seen. In the U.S., PRH will hopefully roll out the marketing and publicity investment that the Spaniard management was reluctant to make in order to consolidate and expand the local Spanish-language literary market. 

- Compared to the multi billion-dollar deals taking place every day in the information technology market, the amount of the Santillana purchase (72 million Euro) is a sobering reminder of the shrinking power of the print book industry. Spaniard executives were also very slow to react to the ebook and the digital revolution, which is something that will very likely change under the new ownership.   

Read more at El Confidencial (In Spanish) 

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