Brazil apart, publishers are struggling to persuade the growing middle class to read more books
Dec 10th 2011 | GUADALAJARA
TINY fingers wiggle through the holes in the pages of “A Moverse” (“Let’s Get Moving”), a children’s picture-book that lets readers pretend their digit is a cat’s tail or penguin’s beak. While managers in suits talk print-runs and profits in one hall of the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the world’s biggest Spanish-language literary get-together, shrieks of excitement can be heard from young customers in the children’s area next door.
Illiteracy and poverty once denied the pleasure of reading to many Latin Americans. That should no longer be the case: a quarter of Mexicans born before 1950 are officially classed illiterate but only 2% of those under 30. And less than a third of Latin Americans now live below the poverty line, compared with half in 1990.
DOLLARS and pesos cross the border between America and Mexico in greater numbers than ever. The $400 billion-worth of trade in 2010 made Mexico America’s biggest trading partner after China and Canada. Greenbacks are so common south of the frontier that in some neighbourhoods peso coins are known as cuoras, a mispronunciation of “quarters”.
Lately the relationship between the currencies has been rocky. Between July and November the peso fell by 19% against the dollar, hitting its lowest level since the 2009 financial crisis. It has since bobbed back a little as prospects across the border have improved a tad. Nonetheless, its performance so far in the second half of this year has been the weakest of any Latin American currency.