Friday, November 12, 2010

The New Spanish Civil War: eBook Visionaries vs. Publishing Luddites

Publishing Perspectives notes two intriguing new publishing alliances in Spain -
The first is ​​​​​​​​​​​​Unebook, a digital platform created by 62 of Spain’s university presses to digitize and sell their content. With the help of digital distributor Publidisa , the group has created a direct-to-consumer website where titles from the participating publishers are offered for sale in PDF format with Adobe DRM; Publidisa is also distributing the titles to mainstream online booksellers including Casa del Libro.

Meanwhile, up in Galicia, ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​the Consejo de Cultura Gallega (Galician Culture Council) announced the formation of a new “cluster” that will bring together the area’s publishers, distributors, and booksellers in order to “respond to the e-book threat” – as the cluster’s new president, Alfonso García Sanmartín, described it. In Galicia 98% percent of the population speaks gallego, one of Spain’s four official languages (usually in addition to fluent Spanish), which has given rise to a regional publishing industry to serve readers in both languages.  While García Sanmartín asserts that the publishers in Galicia who have e-books on offer have sold no more than 30 copies a year, and that the digital future “is likely to arrive much more slowly than what has been predicted”, the cluster nonetheless hopes to create a common strategy to help all of its members — the group is firm in its desire to maintain the traditional publisher-distributor-bookseller value chain — weather the disruption brought about by technological changes to the industry.