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DIRECTOR’S DESK: Spanish Language: One of Publishing’s Fastest-Growing Areas

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by Jan Nathan

Executive Director, PMA


Spanish Language: One of
Publishing’s Fastest-Growing Areas


Years ago, when the
Guadalajara Book Fair was in its infancy, PMA decided to give it a try. At
first, I thought I was not reading its brochure correctly. It said that the
fair would run for 10 days from something like 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.
daily. Surely there must be time for siestas during the day, I thought. Well,
there wasn’t. But although the fair ran 10 days—and still does—only
three of those days were for the trade and therefore suitable for licensing
rights. The same is true today, but the three trade days have become lots more


Since there were many other shows
we wanted to offer to our members, we didn’t go back to Guadalajara after that
first year, but now we have decided to revisit the fair to see how we can help
our members do business more efficiently in the Spanish-language market. (Also,
watch for an article in the December issue of the <span
about publishing in


style=’font-size:11.0pt’>What’s Different Down There


You may think distribution is a
bit frustrating stateside, but comments from many publishers in Mexico made our
operations look streamlined. Often, they not only acquire Spanish-language
books, they also function as printers, distributors, and owners of bookstores
in which only their titles can be found. General bookstores exist as well, and
I visited a popular chain called Gigante (it is indeed that: huge) that doesn’t
just carry books, it carries everything—food, clothing, furniture, and on
and on. Gigante makes Costco look tiny.


The Guadalajara Book Fair is one
of the most popular cultural events in the area. Schoolchildren walk the halls
with their classmates, looking at the latest titles. Members of the general
public also come to the fair to look for new titles and also to buy them right
then and there. Spanish-language publishers display stacks and stacks of books
and send lots and lots of sales staff.


How can PMA work in this
environment? We can help you directly license rights to Spanish-language
publishers that will distribute your titles in their regions, just as we help
with rights deals elsewhere. Or we might help you structure a deal with a
Spanish-language publisher to license your rights and also arrange a direct
buyback or royalty situation in which you get some of the translated books to
sell to schools, libraries, and other venues in the United States that want to
purchase your titles in Spanish.


With that sort of deal, you know
that the translation should be a good one, and you won’t have the up-front cost
of doing it yourself. This could be a win/win situation. Of course, you should
definitely have the advice of an attorney and a good contractual agreement, as
with any other type of licensing.


Last year PMA asked our general
counsel, Jonathan Kirsch, to develop a sample Foreign Rights Licensing
Contract, which is available to all members on our Web site at no charge. This
sample contract is not meant for use as is; it is designed to help you make
sure your contract covers everything it should cover.


I am excited about the
opportunities for PMA members’ titles at the Guadalajara Book Fair, but you
need to act quickly, as this show takes place at the end of this month. Please
turn to the marketing pages in this issue or visit <span
and fill out the form
immediately. Bienvenidos
to what may be a new revenue stream for the independent publisher!




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