The best thing about being on twitter (@UKLatinAmerica) is interacting with SMEs from all over the world that are keen to know more about Latin America. So, when one question popped up thanks to @JaJaJaBooks, I just couldn’t resist it…

JaJaJa Books commented on the imminent release of my ebook “Doing business with Latin America” (shameless sales plug! – click HERE for the publisher’s page) and asked about the publishing industry in Latin America. A very broad question but one I am keen to tackle because of my love of books.

Rather than boring you with detail, let’s look at some stats, suggest some starting points and mention some useful links…

some stats…

(all from CERLALC, August 2012, data corresponding to 2010)

–          Brazil is the country with the largest number of titles (by ISBN): 46,670

–          When the number of titles is divided by 100,000 people (to give us a better idea of penetration rather than volume), Argentina and Uruguay are the biggest consumers, with 56 and 54 titles per 100,000 people respectively

–          In terms of importation of books (in USD million, CIF prices), Mexico is by far the largest importer (368.0) followed by Brazil (141.2) and Mexico is also the largest importer of books from outside Latin America (91%).

where do you start?

In our publication “Doing Business in Latin America” we give you some great starting points for thinking about specific countries, finding distributors, cultural and language issues and more. We hope you find this a great starting point for exporting to Latin America.

If you are selling bilingual books, you might want to find out what the government policy is in each country regarding bilingual education. Is it compulsory? From what age? Which languages? Also, how about private bilingual schools? You could try and contact them directly, but in general they are unlikely to buy your books directly since the importation process in Latin America is tricky – but maybe they can recommend a distributor… And by “contact them directly” I do not really mean emails, which tend to be overlooked… Could you swap free “samples” or organise a prize draw to incentivise information sharing? Thinking laterally is key!

Another great way of starting your publishing export journey in Latin America is visiting one of the fascinating consumer and trade shows. Tip: link it up with some “market research” around local bookshops and a few pre-arranged interviews with buyers and experts – but bear in mind this is a busy time for them!

Probably the most famous one is the Buenos Aires Feria del Libro, which takes place at the end of April. Check it out here:

There are other shows that are also hugely known in the Spanish-speaking world, such as the Feria del Libro de Guadalajara in Mexico ( and the Feria del Libro de Bogotá in Colombia (, to name but two.

And remember that Brazil is altogether a different world for publishing since their national language is not Spanish but Portuguese (and a very different sort of Portuguese from that of Portugal!). Have a look at this event if you are interested in Brazil:

some more useful links…

Read this Economist article (Dec 2011) about publishing in Latin America.

Unesco’s “Centro Regional para el Fomento del Libro en América Latina y el Caribe” CERLALC

Ebook growth in Latin America is forecast to be high in the next few years, read about it HERE.


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