Buenos Aires sees publishers bet on niche markets

Buenos Aires sees publishers bet on niche markets

Publishers have been upbeat at the 41st Buenos Aires International Book Fair, which concludes today (11th May), highlighting strong sales in the Argentine market of adventure, fantasy and self-help books. They told The Bookseller that they planned to focus on these genres as they sign new talent.

“Neuroscience is a trend this year,” said Adriana Fernandez, content and editorial manager in Argentina for Editorial Planeta, a division of Spain’s Grupo Planeta. She highlighted Facundo Manes’ Usar el Cerebro (Use Your Brain), a self-help book about understanding the mind to live better, a standout presentation at the fair.

Fernandez said the book’s potential could reflect the success of fellow Argentine authors Gabriel Rolón, who has written a string of bestsellers based on his work as a psychoanalyst, and Felipe Pigna, who has written a series of popular history books.

Fernandez added that fantasy and romance/erotic books for young adults were also a growth area in the Argentine market, with Anna Todd’s After series being a popular pick by consumers attending the fair. She said Mexico’s Lorena Amkie is scoring Argentine sales with her Gothic series and El Club de los Perdedores (The Losers’ Club), so too Argentina’s Tiffany Calligaris with Lesath and Witches.
“We are looking for more writers in these genres,” Fernandez said, adding that another search is for local YouTube self-publishers to build on the buzz created by authors such as Zoe Sugg’s Girl Online.

Natalia Ginzburg, editorial director of the book publishing division of Argentina’s Editorial Atlántida, owned by Mexico’s Grupo Televisa, said young adult adventure and horror titles also were selling well in Argentina, so too “choose your own adventure” gamebooks.

Atlantida has signed Argentine media star Gabriel Corrado to write a trilogy building on El Secreto Aladina (Aladdin’s Secret), a dystopian science-fiction adventure in the vein of The Hunger Games. The second is out this year, and film adaptations are planned, Ginzburg said.

Corrado, an actor, also is part of an Argentine trend of signing artists, film directors and musicians for book deals. “They come with their own fan clubs,” Ginzburg said. When a rock musician plays a concert, for example, his book stands alone for fans to buy. “Instead of bringing everybody to the bookshop, you take the book to the consumer,” she said.

Ginzburg said comics in book format also were doing well in Argentina, with new titles coming out of the region like Argentina’s Caro Chinaski with Hija de Vecina, published by Atlantida, about the travails of a city girl. Horror also is a new theme in children’s books, such as in the Morton Fosa series about a cemetery caretaker by Argentina’s Fernando De Vedia.

Independent book publishers also were busy at the fair promoting writers whose books would otherwise “never reach readers,” said José María Espinasa, editor of Ediciones Sin Nombre, in Mexico.

There has been a series of new independent publishers being launched across Latin America, for instance more than 50 new independents such as Sexto Piso and Almadía, in Mexico, helping to introduce writers such as Mexican Juan Villoro, who have later been signed by bigger publishers, he said.

Meanwhile, book fair participants accepted that while e-readers remain scarce in Latin America because of the high cost, publishers are preparing for digital business models to tap expected growth. One tactic will be to sell chapters out of textbooks, said Andres Silva, manager of editorial production at Editorial Osmar D Buyatti in Buenos Aires. Instead of selecting one out of five textbooks on the same topic, a teacher could choose their favorite chapters from all of them to piece together a textbook on an e-reader, he said.