Mexico is a growing export market for Canadian publishers, but the local ebook market hasn’t yet reached the maturity of its Canadian and American neighbours. To weigh-in with advice on ebook distribution and print-on-demand in Mexico, here are some thoughts from our report Selling Canada Books in Mexico.
The distribution of e-books in Mexico follows the same general trends that can be found in many other publishing markets around the world. There are no national Mexican digital distributors per se, but there are a number of sister companies of global distribution companies, such as OverDrive, the American e-book distribution platform for libraries; Bookwire, the European e-book distribution platform that has regional offices in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Chile; or, to a lesser degree, regional agents such as Libranda, Amabook, or Publidisa.
Mexican digital distribution agreements largely adopt the same percentages, commissions, and general terms that are usually found around the rest of the world—80% of the net revenues go to the publishers and 20% to the distribution company. When a publishing company choses a distribution platform, there is a likely chance that they will experience a quick growth of Mexican digital sales because of the increasing demand for digital content in several languages (English, French, German, etc.) across the country. Notwithstanding, the publisher will still need to dedicate time and money towards the promotion and marketing of their e-books in the Mexican market, as well as provide the distributor with the necessary metadata. To ensure a complete distribution of their e-book catalogue throughout the Spanish-speaking market, a publisher must ensure that their distributor has local offices and teams in place across each of the major markets in the region (Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, etc.) in order to guarantee the best advice about local pricing and marketing tactics. They will also need to make sure their distributor is well connected to the major national and local retailers, subscription channels, and library portals.
Unfortunately, print-on-demand (POD) is not currently a salient option for foreign publishers in Mexico due to the high printing costs associated with this manner of production, which becomes even higher when we consider the cost of delivery throughout Mexico’s urban and rural areas. Although large and medium-sized publishers rely on digital printing to cover reprints, these operations do not yet yield a profit. For the most part, digital printing is used in cases where the publisher must produce copies very quickly in order to fulfil an ongoing demand for their books.
Another argument against POD is the limited quantity of high-quality POD printers in Mexico. Although it is possible to come upon good quality digital printing, the lack of economics of scale and high import costs imply a significant increase in price, whereas the quality of books produced by lower-cost printing houses is usually unsatisfactory.
The possibility of importing printed books on demand from countries such as the United States and Canada has also been explored. However, the elevated costs of international deliveries make this option impractical.
The market conditions for POD may change in the future, but for now publishers would do well to focus their efforts on other methods of export for the Mexican market.