Kindle Store for Books in Spanish

Finally, Amazon has rescued Spanish-language books from its super-confusing Foreign Books page (you had to leaf through endless Shakespeare works to get to anything actually foreign) and created a Kindle Store for books in Spanish.

When I saw that store, however, I wished it hadn’t been created. The store promotes two authors: Paulo Coelho, whose connection to the Spanish language I still have not been able to discover, and Isabel Allende, a writer who is as lacking in talent as she is rich in followers. Other than that, all that the store seems to promote are translations of very silly bestsellers.

The bestselling Spanish titles section is dominated by books written by somebody called Suzanne Collins. Apparently, this Collins person is the ultimate in Spanish-language writing.

There is also a huge bunch of religious books by English-speaking experts in brainwashing.

If you dig around, you’ll find a lot of books by Vargas Llosa. Unfortunately, they are only sold in English translation.

It is beyond annoying that one can never find a place where books by Spanish-language writers in Spanish appear by themselves, without translations of English-language bestsellers overrunning the place. Even if you go directly to the webpages of Spanish publishing houses, you have to struggle for hours to make your way out of all kinds of garbage by Nicholas Sparks and Co.

This is really annoying, given that authors who write in English are not producing anything that could even begin to compete in quality with literature by today’s writers from Spain. (Feel free to argue with me but I’ll expect a list of titles that were released in Spanish and English in 2011 that you have read.)

And please don’t tell me that these Stockett and Sparks individuals dominate the list of Spanish bestsellers because that’s what people want to read. I’m a specialist in Contemporary Spanish literature and I have to dig around endlessly to find good Spanish novels under the rubble of these Collinses-Schmollinses that websites keep pushing in my face. People read Coelho and Allende because nobody even tells them that these writers are total crap and that real literature exists in the world. Do you know how many times I’ve had to reveal to people that Allende is a crappy author? I always offer a list of good writers people can read instead of this peddler of stupidity, and everybody thanks me for it.

22 thoughts on “Kindle Store for Books in Spanish

  1. Yikes! Sounds as banal and unvaried as the “Libros en Español” section of the Barnes & Noble I used to work at. That had nothing but copies of the latest bestsellers in Spanish and romance novels.

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  2. I too consider Isabel Allende vastly overrated. She benefited both from having a famous last name and from the feminist search for female icons (you can add Frida Kahlo to that list, elevated to demi-godess status by icon-seekers while skipping over the vastly more talented Mexican painters Tamara de Lempicka, Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington).

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  3. This is a bit off topic, but I would love to hear your opinion of Paulo Coelho at some point. Personally, I’ve only read one of his books (“The Alchemist”), but I thought that it was a dreadful, glurgy self-help book masquerading as a work of literature.

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    1. “I thought that it was a dreadful, glurgy self-help book masquerading as a work of literature”

      – What can I say if you’ve summarized it so perfectly? 🙂 Ghh, I still shudder when I remember that experience.

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    2. I seriously can not stand Coelho! I read a few of his books, because they were very popular in my country 15 years ago or so (e.g. “The Alchemist” and “At the River Piedra I sat and wept”) and I didn’t think they were too bad, although I never found them as “illluminating” as everyone else seemed to to. But then he gave out “Veronica decides to die”, where he placed the story into my country, supposedly after he visited it and found it so beautiful. Except: places are all mixed up, he is using misspelled place names, the locations he mentions (in particular a hospital) do not exist and the story is supposedly linked to political events, but it is just horrendous and inhumane! And everyone else (even in my country!) seems to praise him for this stupidity of a book!!! Never again Coelho for me!

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  4. Off-topic: Speaking of Susan Colins, who is of coures eby no means Spanish – how is her trilogy from the Bildungsroman viewpoint? Note – I am talking about the whole trilogy, not about the movie made based on the first book (a.k.a. Hunger Games). The movie is a decent action movie, but even though it is foramally close enough to the book, some very importan details got lost, and in some sense the movie, with the whole marketing fad around it, became an illustration of what is wrong with the society according to the book…

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      1. I am afraid to recommend anything to someone with such a discerning literary tastes as yours 🙂 :). High risk of being considered shallow. 🙂 Anyway – read the books. Preferably all three… (Do not watch the movie until you read the books.) I sometimes have a feeling that the third one has been written already after the author knew how her message has been mishandled* in the movie, so she went into extra effort to prove it is not Twilight by any means… Or maybe she planned it this way from the very beginning…
        *With respect to the movie mishandling the main idea of the book – I am actiually very interested in the perception of other participants – is it just me? Maybe the movie actually does convey the message “you are actually the citizens of the Capitol, think of the implications” anyway?.. But from the reactions of the teenagers around us it seems they took the movie just as an action movie…
        P.S. How can I return to my previous identity?

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        1. “I am afraid to recommend anything to someone with such a discerning literary tastes as yours . High risk of being considered shallow.”

          – Are you ridiculing a fan of Picoult, Rendell and Marinina? 🙂

          “Anyway – read the books. Preferably all three… ”

          – So they are not an equivalent of Twilight?

          “P.S. How can I return to my previous identity?”

          – Is that what the book does to people? 🙂 🙂

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      2. Apparently yes, the book did that to me. It also made your forum ask me for a password. So I registered at WordPress in order to have one, and now I do not recognize myself… Just joking. My avatar did not change. 🙂
        Re: Twilight – no, it is not. Although many people who only saw the movie are expecting something like that. Based on two boys / one girl setup. It is actually quite facinating that parallels with the Twilight is what most people see first… Are we collectively so far gone, as a society? It also amazes me how especially the russian reviewes are missing the point so completely… They just discuss cynically how the movie will prey on young girls’ movie-going dollars. Even Radulova, whom I in general deeply respect, falls into the same trap – for her it is just improved Twilight, with the girl actually being strong, not just rosy tears… I guess it has something to do with Russia being much more centralized and the whole setup just reminding “the Capitol” and “the districts” than the US does… And all the popular

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        1. “It also made your forum ask me for a password. So I registered at WordPress in order to have one, and now I do not recognize myself… Just joking. My avatar did not change.”

          – I have absolutely no idea why that happened. Sorry for the aggravation!

          “Even Radulova, whom I in general deeply respect, falls into the same trap – for her it is just improved Twilight, with the girl actually being strong, not just rosy tears… I guess it has something to do with Russia being much more centralized and the whole setup just reminding “the Capitol” and “the districts” than the US does…”

          – OK, now I want to read the books. Which is just what I needed with the huge backlog of reading matter I now have.

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      3. I was afraid it was going to end up like Twilight at first, what with every young adult book blogger vying for Gale and Peeta. But Katniss’ character goes beyond that. It is dystopian, taking place in an after-the-apocalypse setting–this makes it a form of science fiction, I think.

        As for the third book, I don’t think the screenplay was written when it came out. I’ve heard people say they hated Mockingjay, but that was because the romantic aspect that they found so important didn’t turn out the way they wanted (to be honest, though, I always thought the romance-ish stuff was overshadowed by Katniss’ character–maybe there’s a parallel to the present time. 🙂 ) It’s a powerful ending, though. I’d recommend the series; now I’m curious as to what you think.

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      4. Yes, Pen is right, it is a dystopian Sci-Fi according to formal criteria. But it is not about fancy gadgetry or monstrous monsters (although it has both), it is about experiences of people thrusted into the horrible circumstances. Which (circumstances) are, in fact, a grotesque version of the current reality.
        Yes, there is a girl and two boys, but the choice is not the main thing which preoccupies the girl. Yes, she is human, so she has to deal with her feelings to towards the boys too. (With the feelings, by the way, based on shared bonds of fighting a real meaninful fight together, not just something totally contrieved.) But the choice itself is to a large extent pushed onto her by the circumstances, which are the source of much more thought-provoking moral dilemmas than “which boy should I choose, a vampire or a werewolf?” And by various people and groups which have various agendas of their own.

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        1. ” But it is not about fancy gadgetry or monstrous monsters (although it has both), it is about experiences of people thrusted into the horrible circumstances. Which (circumstances) are, in fact, a grotesque version of the current reality.”

          – You are selling it REALLY well. 🙂 Are you sure you didn’t miss your calling as a literature prof when you went into physics? 🙂

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      5. Thank you. Too late. 🙂 And when I was a boy, I was a very typical boy in this particular respect – I skipped all the peace in War and Peace. And skipped most of the classics completely (remember my Taras Bulba story?). Still got an A – my grandmother was a retired literature teacher, so I had all those methodics books which told how to write essays on this or that according to the latest directive of the government. 🙂
        My ability to say something meaningful about literature is a much more recent development, grown out of my fascination with psychology.

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        1. “And when I was a boy, I was a very typical boy in this particular respect – I skipped all the peace in War and Peace. ”

          – It’s OK, I skipped all the war. 🙂

          “My ability to say something meaningful about literature is a much more recent development, grown out of my fascination with psychology”

          – That’s the most unexpected path to literary criticism and appreciation of literature ever.

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      6. Why? I think it is quite logical – boy does not care that much about fine shades of emotions and motivations of human behavior, does not have the respective vocabulary. Maybe the boy is a bit autistic, maybe these are just unfortunate effects of various childhood trauma. The boy grows up and matures and becomes more interested in how psyche works… Picks up respective vocabulary and practices using it. Anything resembling literary criticism is just a fortunate side effect… 🙂

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  5. turns out I did not finish the last sentence – and all the popular bloggers and reviewers are the citizens of the Capitol, a.k.a. Moscow. 🙂

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  6. Also frustrating that the kindle store from amazon.es will not sell kindle editions to the US. Every single book says “Este libro no está diponible para su país.”

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  7. Amen hallelujah!

    As for the Hunger Games, I can’t guess whether you’d like it or not, but I know I’d love to hear your take. One point in favor: the main character only buys into the sad idea of defining herself by her relationships insofar as it benefits her to do so.

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