US publisher puts a bilingual word in the right tourist's ear

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The Independent Online
Listening to the conversations of others is said to bring trouble, and it might yet for Louis Montesano, but so far it has only led him into a growing business venture, writes Roger Trapp.

Mr Montesano, a publisher for 12 years (and a German speaker), noticed that of the foreigners he came across in his native New York, those that were not British were overwhelmingly German. A little research confirmed that Germans and Britons account for the biggest share of visitors to the United States (2 million and 3 million a year, respectively), and that their numbers have been growing since the late 1980s. Since about three in four of these were repeat visitors, he saw a demand for a travel magazine to be distributed in Britain and Germany, dedicated to telling readers about the less well-known tourist attractions of the United States. And so American Holiday & Life was born.

It is a simple formula. Each quarterly issue is published in English and German and concentrates on one or two areas of the country, with a certain number of articles on a theme. Just over two years after the first issue hit the streets of Britain and Germany, the venture he began with his savings and help from investors outside the publishing industry is on the verge of trading profitably.

Sales of about 70,000 copies across the two countries, mainly by subscription, has, in Mr Montesano's words, been keeping the magazine afloat during a time of a sluggish economy that has held back advertising. Keeping the staff small and using regional correspondents has helped hold costs down - and he hopes to make a profit next year.

Pointing out that arranging a distribution channel in Britain had proved particularly tough, Mr Montesano said: 'We've had some difficulties. But there has been a tremendous reception.'