by David Safier
Spanish-language e-books are flourishing, which is wonderful. The LA Times article says we have 38 millions Spanish speakers in the U.S., and their access to books in Spanish has been limited until recently. It's hard for a bookstore to stock a selection wide enough to satisfy people's reading appetites — libraries have the same problem — and the books for sale tend to be much more expensive than English-language books. Now, courtesy of Kindle and other e-readers, people all over the world can access online books no matter their points of origin. The number of available titles has skyrocketed, and costs tend to be far lower than printed versions. The trends extend to languages other than Spanish, of course.
From 2011 to 2012, the number of Hispanics owning some kind of e-reader has jumped from 1 in 20 to 1 in 5, according to the article. There's a hunger out there for written material in the Hispanic population, in Spanish and, I'm sure, in English. I'm for anything that encourages literacy in general and reading in particular. It's great for the readers themselves, and it's good for the children who are surrounded by people with their noses buried in physical or virtual books. Children who see adults reading tend to pick up the habit themselves.
I'm sure if I lived in a different country, even if I developed fluency in its language, I'd want to read books in my mother tongue. Those words I grew up with, the phrasings, the idioms have the comfort of home cooking. They defy translation. Now those books can fly across borders at internet speed.