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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 14 November 2017. In this issue:

12 things you may not know about publishing in Mexico

Earlier this month I spent 10 days co-presenting (with Richard Balkwill) two training programmes to Mexican publishers. As always when we work outside the UK we learn a huge amount about what it’s like to be a publisher in a different market. It’s 11 years since we were last in Mexico and although many things have changed since then one thing had not: we found ourselves working with two groups of committed, enthusiastic and ambitious publishing professionals who were also great fun to be around. We wish them well in life and work!

Here is my (very) brief introduction to the realities of their home market. (* indicates a report referenced at the end of the article):

  1. This is a huge country with challenging logistics and distribution issues, which helps to create a bottleneck where there is excellent content available but limited access to it.
  2. Reliable market data is hard to find, making the market and competitor analysis necessary to inform publishing decisions and benchmark performance a significant challenge.
  3. Between 1990 and 2000 Mexico’s literacy rates for people between the ages of 10 and 15 went from around 12% to over 90%.* This, plus a wealthier generation which is also embracing digital, should mean opportunities for publishers in the future – but only if a culture of books and reading can be encouraged too.
  4. This won’t be achieved if practised ‘by government-implemented reading programs alone. A new reading culture depends on the publishing industry itself to use campaigns, affordable pricing, and activities that complement governmental programs.’ (Felipe Rosete, Editor at Sexto Piso.)*
  5. Bookstores struggle to survive and are significantly impacted by the government supplying books direct and free to primary schools, using private distributors and bypassing bookstores. This also affects the public’s perception of the value of books, creating a culture in which they ‘should be free’.
  6. 94% of Mexican municipalities have no significant sales outlet for books.*
  7. The massive intervention of the government in publishing has the effect of depressing the opportunities for private publishers and retailers, a situation further compounded by international textbook publishers Santillana, McGraw-Hill, Pearson and others doing lucrative deals with the state.
  8. The value of books is not necessarily appreciated in schools/universities either. The Technical Institute of Monterrey signed an agreement with publishers to photocopy a limited number of textbook chapters, bought by credits. But they asked for old editions of textbooks and couldn’t be persuaded to take the new instead.
  9. 80% of trade sales in Mexico come from two international giants, the Spanish publisher Planeta, and Random House.
  10. Ominously, Amazon established a Kindle e-store in 2013, started selling physical goods in 2015, and opens a mega-warehouse near Mexico City in 2018. is offering Prime membership with ‘delivery in 1 or 2 days’. It posted US$253 million in sales in Mexico in 2016. Whether Amazon ultimately succeeds or fails in Mexico, it will have raised the bar in terms of consumer expectations – and, just perhaps, publishers may benefit.
  11. Product and customer data and digitisation of content is another challenge, but one which Mexico’s publishers are very aware is a priority if they are to compete with international competitors.
  12. Mexico has a very proactive and passionate publishers’ association in CANIEM. At the Guadalajara Book Fair later this month they will announce a working group to tackle three of the industry’s biggest issues: academic and specialist training to help companies expand into overseas Spanish-speaking countries; data management; and a specialised library at CANIEM’s Centre for Innovation in Mexico City.
Sources: Stats marked * are from From the Ground Up: Inventing Mexican Publishing in 2013 (Elisabeth Watson on, it is telling that I could find nothing more recent); Carlos Anaya Rosique and Jesus Anaya Rosique (both of CANIEM).

Read From the Ground Up for yourself.

See news of our training programmes with CANIEM and a photo of Richard and me with the second group of participants in Mexico City on the CANIEM website.

Our courses don’t just take place in the UK, we bring in-company training to other locations on a regular basis, and work with national Publishing Associations too. If you’re outside the UK but would like to know more take a look at our International page.


'Facebook likes are bright dings of pseudo-pleasure', says this excellent article

The average person now touches, swipes or taps their phone 2,617 times a day. I find that shocking.

‘Everyone is distracted. All of the time’, says Justin Rosenstein, who was the engineer who first created the ‘like’ button on Facebook, but who has now taken radical steps to distance himself from the addictive pull of social media.

This is a compelling article which explains how Facebook (and other social platforms) exploit our weaknesses and our desire to be liked (in the real world). And who knew, for instance, that technology has moved beyond the need for us to swipe down a screen to refresh it, but that the ‘old’ functionality has been retained because it is inherently satisfying for us to do so, just as pulling a handle on a slot machine delivers a similar frisson of expectation?

This article has relevance to all of us trying to engage with potential readers. It is not enough for us to have ‘the best’ content. To get attention in the first place we have to knock to one side the sparkly distractions vying for our reader’s time.

Our Impressive Marketing Plans on a Small Budget Workshop (next runs 5 December) and Copywriting Workshop are two courses designed to tackle this challenge head on.

Read the article for yourself on The Guardian website.


Academic Marketing Workshop February date, who's in?

Our Academic Marketing Workshop will run next in London on Thursday 8 February. Why not read more or book your place now (at your eBulletin discounted price of £349) while you’re reading this?


Tip of the week: A publisher just prints books, right?

I’m indebted to Richard Balkwill for this one. He described a meeting from a decade ago between 25 top UK educational publishers and the then Education Minister, who asked if the publishers had thought of asking teachers’ opinions as to what they published. ‘There was a stunned silence’, said Richard, ‘as all the publishers wondered how to politely say “just what do you think we do all day?”’

The vast majority of people out there, including many who should know better, have no idea what publishers do – apart, perhaps, from simply printing books. Isn’t it about time we made sure that the value we add is stressed at every opportunity?




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