Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LASA book exhibit goes poof

The book exhibit has been canceled for the 2009 LASA and there is no explanation. Anyone know why? As someone who spends a lot of time (and some money) there every conference, it's a disappointment.


Jon 3:49 PM  

Yes. The North American publishers decided that they wouldn't go to Rio. I understand that they blamed the hassle of customs etc. I also understand, however, that LASA organized a dedicated customs guy to sort out such bureaucratic hassles. They still decided not to do.

Jon 3:50 PM  

Sorry, "not to go," obviously.

NB the publishers no doubt have their own version of the story; mine comes from people rather closer to LASA itself, who weren't particularly happy about the publishers' decision. Not least because LASA normally makes a significant amount of money, which in turn subsidizes the conference itself, out of the exhibit.

Greg Weeks 5:06 PM  

That makes sense, though I heard it from a North American publisher that had originally planned to go.

Miguel Centellas 6:47 PM  

At least I might not have to go through the awkwardness of ducking a publisher if I don't get my mss handed in on time! But, seriously, that totally sucks. It's a big part of what makes the conference appealing, actually.

Tambopaxi 6:11 AM  

,,, This unfortunate development inadvertently highlights an issue that has always bothered me in living down here in LA, and that's the lack of free trade in books and indeed, the availability of books on a large scale/reasonably cheap basis.

We're well into the 21st century and the book trade in all LA countries is controlled by local casas editoriales in each country with the result that books are for sale in relatively few places, and chronically over-priced and beyond the economic reach of most people.

As for books or magazines in the English language, you'll find some of each in larger bookstores in up-scale bookstores, but just a few and really expensive. A slim, new book just in here in Quito on Obama, for example, has dust cover price of $26.00 and sale price here of $51.00, and that's a typical mark up.

One might argue economies of scale, low demand, etc., justify all of this, but after living down here for over 30 years, I've concluded that the problems of relatively few books, low quality and over pricing stem from small numbers of publishers/suppliers who are more interested on high returns on small numbers of books and in controlling markets, rather than getting out more (in terms of quantity and variety) and cheaper books to larger, expanded markets.

And when it comes to importing quantities of books in other languages, forget it; I've had books mailed to me from Amazon and customs here charges 20-30% duties, depending on the type of book purchased. Since there are no English language publishing houses here, unfair competition can't be argued. It's simply symptomatic of the continued ologopolistic control of book markets by small numbers of publishers that continue to think in 19th century marketing ways down here....

boz 7:46 AM  

And when it comes to importing quantities of books in other languages, forget it

I have to wonder whether e-books will make a dent in that problem over the next decade. The technology is going to get cheaper and more available. At some point, the price point is going to beat the markups and tariffs in Latin America.

Tambopaxi 8:59 AM  


Good point.

I've checked kindle out on the web but it looks like their service is for the States only - and only certain regions, at that - at this point, but I await the day, for sure. I think you're right, though, in that once this service goes international, the book barriers should get lower, if they don't tumble down....

Anonymous,  11:27 AM  

As I recall, the publishers were lobbying against LASA's decision to meet outside the U.S. I do not see how LASA or anyone could force them to go and I guess without a minimum number of publishers,LASA had to cancel to avoid losses.

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