TechFlash reports that Amazon has opened an online presence in Spain with and fitting Spain’s multi-language society, Spaniards can buy books in Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque. Books are not discounted (it is illegal), but DVDs, software and appliances are. No Kindle yet, though.
And from Oreilly Mediayou can watch (I would recommend just listening to it) the 30 minute conversation. It is interesting especially since Javier Celaya the Spanish expert suggests the Kindle won’t be as big a player. It will be more the tablets. There are some sad statistics about home many people read books in Spain: 50% say no, and another large portion buy 3 to 4 a year.
Below is a brief outline of the state of the ebook industry in Spain. While it is moving slowly, there have been some big agreements recently that will shape the future of the ebook there. Consumer access to the books, though, remains limited. It will be interesting to see how this works versus the Amazon model, especially now that Apple has entered the game. (The article comes from La Nacion in Argentina and is translated via Google Translate with my corrections).
Is the Spanish publishing industry diving into digital waters? Not really. A few weeks ago in Madrid it announced the upcoming launch of Libranda, a distribution platform for digital books led by Planeta, Santillana and Random House Mondadori. The initiative promises to expand the catalog of electronic books in Spanish: eleven publishers will make their digitized collections available to libraries. For now, however, the reader does not have direct access to the platform. It is not a minor detail: the publishers chose not to neglect the channel now accounts for 90% of its business, and so launched a project that is more a defensive strategy than a full exploitation of the advantages of the digital ecosystem.
While they can not buy and sell ebooks directly through Libranda, readers and authors will benefit of the final price of electronic books which will be 30% lower than the paper copy, and the authors will receive 20% of the selling price , twice as much as they receive a paper copy.
Until the arrival of Libranda, the great platform of electronic books in Spanish was to be TodoEbook, which brings together more than 400 small and medium-sized Spanish publishers, offering 20,000 titles, mostly from collections and nonfiction works whose rights are in the public domain. Now, between the two platforms have 95% of the supply of ebooks in Spanish.
The expanding market for electronic books will result in the growth of eReaders, a scene now dominated by the Kindle, but seriously threatened by Apple’s IPAD. While the latter is more than an e-book reader, a fact revealed when its launch shook the foundations of the emerging ebook industry. According to a recent survey, 60% of Americans heard about the IPAD while only 37% of the Kindle.
On this side of the ocean, Musimundo opened the first shop that sells electronic books in the country. Built on Bibliográfika platform that integrates bookstores and publishers for printing, distribution and marketing of books on demand, now offers an extensive catalog of 20,000 books.
Publishing Perspectives has a good article on Spain’s three biggest publishers (and many smaller ones) that have agreed a plan to publish ebooks. They will, naturally, have digital rights management, but will be in a the ePub format which is reader neutral. They will also have region controls on them and you can only buy them in the big Spanish outlets and some smaller bookstores (El Corte Inglés, Fnac, Casa del Libro, Abacus, Cámara, Cervantes, La Central, Laie, Proteo, Machado, Popular, Ochentamundos, Hijos de Santiago Rodríguez, and Santos Ochoa). The article doesn’t make it clear if you could buy those books from the United States, which would be great because you could avoid shipping charges. I followed up with the author and one of her sources and they said, no. The publishers have to have the rights to sell in a market. I’m sure it that important for them to sell a few copies of a Spanish language book in the US, but it would certainly be handy (Yes, there are many Spanish speakers in the US, and one article doesn’t make a case, but according to Santillana USA, they don’t read too much).
In the age of globalization these cut up markets make little sense. I know how they happen, with companies divining up certain sectors, but they often lead to weird restraints of trade. If you look at how the music industry was during the late great age of the CD, often times you could buy an import from Europe or Japan that the record company in the US was just too lazy to bring out. Yes, if you had connections or were willing to pay extra you could get a copy, but it often left the artists who wanted to distribute without distribution. I will be able to buy things from Spain without any problems because I have connections, but it seems like this system doesn’t really benefit the artist or the public.
It looks like there is some push back on the e-readers from publishers. According to TechFlash publishers think e-reader sales should come between hard backs and paper backs. We will see how this works out. The film industry is fighting this battle right now with studios wanting simultaneous release on all channels. Will there be someone who blinks first and goes simultaious?
It’s a sign that parts of the book publishing industry are hardening their opposition to the widespread retailer practice — spearheaded by Amazon.com — of selling electronic versions of new release books at a heavily discounted $9.99.
Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group are the two publishers delaying more titles. Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy told the Journal that the “right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback,” acknowledging that some readers will be “disappointed” by that timeline. Upcoming Simon & Schuster titles affected by the new policy include Don DeLillo’s “Point Omega” and the Karl Rove memoir “Courage and Consequence.”