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Spain gets into e-books in a big way

The digerati often accuse the publishing community of being a stodgy lot when it comes to e-books, but a consortium of publishers in Spain is going against type with the launch of Libranda, a digital distributor set up by the country’s leading publishers. The service will launch in beta on July 15 with 2,000 titles from 10 participating publishers “ the largest pool of Spanish-language e-books in the world “ with plans to expand to the rest of the Spanish-speaking world in the near future. At the outset, Libranda titles will not be available through Amazon, Apple, or Google, but the consortium says it’s working toward deals with all three.

The Spanish experiment is savvy in several ways. By coming together to create a critical mass of e-book content, publishers will have a greater power to set the terms of trade (including prices) for the nascent e-book market, instead of allowing retailers (especially those more interested in selling devices than e-books) to do it for them. However, Libranda is forgoing direct to consumer sales, leaving it up to retailers to fulfill their traditional roles.

Publishing Perspectives has the details:

All decisions about release timing and pricing, as well as negotiations with retailers on terms and discounting, are left up to individual publishers. At [Wednesday’s] press conference, Random House Mondadori, Roca Editorial, and Wolters Kluwer all said they plan on simultaneous release of paper and ebook formats of front list titles going forward, while Planeta’s Badenes implied they would decide on a title by title basis. The average ebook from Libranda will cost 20-30% below the print book price…

Libranda’s investors have collectively contributed 2 million euros to set up the platform and request exclusive digital distribution rights from all participating publishers, though with some flexibility. Planeta’s Badenes admitted that the platform expects to lose money in the beginning and likely won’t turn a profit for the first five years.