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Barnes & Noble Goes Bilingual…1 Millionth Walgreens Pharmacy Patient Fills Prescription With Spanish Directions

Barnes & Noble Goes Bilingual

As demand for Spanish-language books increases, bookseller expands its shelves to compete in a growing, lucrative market.


September 16, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The
Miami Herald. All rights reserved.

Barnes & Noble is significantly expanding its Spanish-language book sections across the country in a sign that the Hispanic market is proving a bright spot in an otherwise dim year for sales.

Mike Ferrari, director of merchandising, said the world's largest bookseller is adding ''thousands'' of titles to its Spanish-language selections in categories ranging from literary works to Bibles to children's picture books as well as launching a bilingual section on its website (

''This is in response to customer demand across the country,'' he said. ``Right now books in Spanish are something that's growing.''

That's good news to the beleaguered book industry, which was banking on this year's megahits Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Hillary Clinton's Living History to help reverse a two-year sales slump.

But those bestsellers did not generate the hoped-for ripple effect on overall purchases. Publishers such as Simon & Schuster and Scholastic laid off employees and announced spending cuts this summer.

The Spanish-language segment, however, may be opening a new chapter for the industry. Although hard numbers are hard to come by in the closed book world, those in the trade agree that the market is expanding rapidly.

''The industry has grown enormously in the last five years,'' said Karin N. Kiser, a Spanish-language book industry consultant in San Diego. ``Borders has been doing this for a long time.''

More books in Spanish

That has led New York-based Barnes & Noble to beef up its Libros en Español sections in 488 of its 634 stores and launch a new bilingual website section of the same name. The website features information about popular Spanish-language authors, a bestseller list, and a selection of books and Latin music.

'About time'

''It's about time,'' Kiser said.

Customers at Barnes & Noble's Coral Gables store agreed.

''It's needed. I'm not finding anything that I like,'' said Sandra Cobo, of Key Biscayne, who was looking for translations of American classics.

She did end up finding one Halloween book -- in English -- for her grandchild.

Froylan Puente, a Coral Gables actuary, was perusing the fiction titles.

''People may speak English fluently, but they like to read in their own language,'' he said.

The Spanish-language market has soared thanks in part to rising numbers of Latin American immigrants and better distribution channels for Spanish-language books in the United States, industry insiders say.


According to trade journal Críticas, the number of titles available in Spanish has boomed to about 30,000 from 5,000 just two years ago.

''Up until now, books in Spanish have been tremendously difficult to buy in the United States, even though so many people in this country prefer reading books in Spanish,'' said Jorge Ramos, the Univisión news anchor who is also a bestselling author.


Distribution has been boosted by U.S. publishers and sellers who have grown more adept at importing titles from Spain and Latin America, as well as U.S. publishers that have started printing their own books in Spanish.

The market has grown so much that some new titles are being released simultaneously in both English and Spanish, such as Monday's launch of Madonna's children's book The English Roses.

One Millionth Walgreens Pharmacy Patient Fills Prescription With Spanish Directions - Company Expands Label Service To 11 Languages

September 16, 2003
Copyright © 2003
PR Newswire Association LLC. All rights reserved.

DEERFIELD, Ill., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Less than 18 months after Walgreens pioneered chain-wide multi-language prescription label service, the company has filled prescriptions with Spanish labels and instructions for one million Spanish-speaking pharmacy patients in the United States.

Walgreens also announced it is adding German, Italian and Tagalog (for Filipinos) to the label service this month, bringing the number of languages available at any Walgreens pharmacy counter to 11. Other languages available include English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Vietnamese.

In the service's first year, Spanish prescription labels and instructions accounted for more than all other non-English language labels combined.

"We've made tremendous progress in helping patients -- particularly our Spanish-speaking customers -- completely understand how they should take their medicine," said Dennis O'Dell, Walgreens vice president of health services. "We hope to help even more people with our expanded language service."

The multi-language label service is one significant way Walgreens is serving the diverse U.S. population. Last month the company became the first national pharmacy retailer to launch a Web site -- -- designed specifically for the millions of Spanish-speaking people in the U.S.

According to Javier Cosme, a Walgreens pharmacist in Chicago, an estimated 10 percent of all hospital admissions are linked to patients not taking their medications correctly.

"Medication instructions in the patient's native language go a long way toward keeping our customers safer and healthier, and out of the hospital," said Cosme.

Walgreens has more than 2,200 pharmacists who speak more than one language throughout the country; 575 of them speak English and Spanish.

A Growing Need For Language Support

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, about 18 percent of the population -- more than 50 million people -- speaks a language other than English at home. And 8 percent -- another 22.5 million people -- speaks English less than "very well." In 2000, people who spoke Spanish at home accounted for 64 percent of those who had difficulty speaking English.

How The Service Works

Walgreens uses an internally developed computer system to provide all language translation. First, the pharmacist enters the prescription directions in English into Walgreens Intercom Plus pharmacy computer system. After verifying the directions for accuracy, the pharmacist then activates translation software for the desired language and prints the directions for the patient.

"We don't have to be multi-lingual to provide native-language instructions," added Cosme. "The system does the work for us, and we know that the patient will understand our instructions."

Walgreen Co. is the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2003 sales of $32.5 billion. The company operates 4,227 stores in 44 states and Puerto Rico, in addition to Walgreens Health Initiatives, which provides pharmacy benefits management, mail service prescriptions and other clinical services.

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