Saturday, December 10, 2011

Publishing in Latin America

A literary deficit

Brazil apart, publishers are struggling to persuade the growing middle class to read more books

TINY fingers wiggle through the holes in the pages of “A Moverse” (“Let’s Get Moving”), a children’s picture-book that lets readers pretend their digit is a cat’s tail or penguin’s beak. While managers in suits talk print-runs and profits in one hall of the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the world’s biggest Spanish-language literary get-together, shrieks of excitement can be heard from young customers in the children’s area next door.

Illiteracy and poverty once denied the pleasure of reading to many Latin Americans. That should no longer be the case: a quarter of Mexicans born before 1950 are officially classed illiterate but only 2% of those under 30. And less than a third of Latin Americans now live below the poverty line, compared with half in 1990.

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