The Growing Latino Literary Market


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Annika Darling

It is estimated that Latinos in the U.S. will purchase over $500 million in books this year – in both English and Spanish. This is a reflection of how rapidly the Latino literary world is growing, a trend not only seen in readership but in the growing quality and quantity of books by Latino authors.

So far, 2014 has been an incredible year for Latino authors. The International Latino Book Awards proved this in June. The ILBA saw a 41 percent increase in entries, and as a result had to nearly double the amount of judges from 2013. Kirk Whisler, co-founder of Latino Literacy Now, stated that “the judges glowed about the quality or the entries.”

Among the 231 honorees at the prestigious ILBA, was Carlos B. Vega, Ph.D, who won first place in the Best History Book category for his book: Our Hispanic Roots: What History Failed To Tell Us, 2nd ed.

In Our Hispanic Roots Vega uncovers the truth about the Hispanic contribution to the making of the United States. The book is rooted with deep honesty and undeniable facts. It is eye opening, informative and inspiring.

“It felt truly great, very fulfilled as an author,” says Vega, of his first place award. “It is an outstanding award in which hundreds of talented Hispanic authors participate every year.”

To his success, Vega attributes perseverance and faith as well the topic in which he chose to write about. “Writing about a subject matter that really counts,” he says, “that makes a difference in bringing to the forefront greater awareness and understanding.”

It has been theorized, as of late, that the great increase in the Latino literary market is due to a great desire for and the need to fill the current gaps in relevant topics.

Vega says he agrees with this sentiment and adds, “Traditionally, Hispanics have been undermined and underrepresented by a distorted history that has contributed significantly to their underclass social standing. No longer can we allow this to continue.”

Awareness of the influx of books by and about Latinos has resulted in Latino Literacy Now, a nonprofit that oversees the ILBA, moving the awards to coincide with the American Library Association’s Annual conference. The realization that Latinos nationwide are twice as likely to use libraries as non-Latinos also has made librarians realize books for and about Latinos is a growing demand for their readers, and therefore embraced the meshing of the two events.

Commenting on the awards themselves, his fellow authors, and the growing industry as a whole, Vega says, “Hispanics are great thinkers and have much to tell if given the opportunity. They are the heirs of great civilizations and have a long and glorious history from which to choose any subject matter they wish. They have also a great and long tradition of excellent writers admired and revered all over the world.”

Vega goes on to add that Latino authors are “very proud of their heritage, and rightly so, which is reflected in one way or another throughout their writings” and that when one peels back the cover of a book written by a Latino author, chances are they will encounter themes dealing with “tradition, heritage, love for country, God, family, history, politics, and life and death.”