Posts Tagged ‘book fairs’
By the time the 42nd Buenos Aires Book Fair opened to book professionals, several of the librarians from the United States attending this year’s event had already visited many of the book spaces in a city known for its many book outlets. It was no coincidence that the hotel was only a few blocks away from Avenida Corrientes, still home to many a book shop in Argentina’s capital. Only a few weeks earlier the iconic street had showcased its legado libresco at La Noche de las Librerías, a cultural event already in it’s 9th year.
For me, I was determined to find a book I had seen at a bookdealer’s catalog in San Francisco. The profusely illustrated, oversize hardcover proved to be quite an adventure: none of the main shops on Corrientes had even heard about it. At one of them it was suggested I consult Librería de la Imagen, whose specialty is local and importerd art books. But the store was already closed on a Saturday afternoon.
A few days later at the Fair’s exhibit hall I mentioned it to the shop’s owner and he had a vague notion about it but his bookstore did not carry it. When I finally secured a copy, thanks to our Library’s vendor, I showed it to the MALBA bookshop cashier who was equally impressed by the book and just as surprised about the limited distribution, ya sabe como son las cosas por acá, he said, agreeing with me that it would make sense for the Museum’s bookstore to have copies for sale.
As in previous years, academic presses had a very visible collective stand while several of the regional governments (provincias) were mostly housed in a large pabellón along with several other NGOs. A local dealer commented that given the new, more fiscally conservative government these entities may not have the same presence at subsequent fairs.
New at this year’s book fair: an on-site courier service that facilitated sending packages without leaving the exhibit hall and Nuevo Barrio, the aisle housing independent publishers with a combined output ranging from fanzines to libros artesanales and graphic novels.
By the time the fair closed its doors after a three week run, organizers reported having hosted 1.2 milion visitors, also announcing Los Angeles as Ciudad invitada for 2017.
Adan Griego, Curator for IberoAmerican Collections-Stanford University.
This article is cross-posted from the WESS newsletter.
The FIL, or Feria Internacional de Libro de Guadalajara (Guadalajara International Book Fair), is a “must go” for any librarian building a collection of Spanish-language materials. It is the largest annual Spanish-language book fair in the Western Hemisphere. At the fair, you will have access to academic, independent, and commercial publishers, networking with colleagues who do the same work you do, and Spanish-language materials from all over the world, at all reading levels, on topics ranging from general to specific interests. This article follows a previous WESS Newsletter article titled, “From Coast to Coast: A New Librarian’s Summer of Professional Development.” In that article, I mentioned some of the ways I had been preparing to attend the book fair in Mexico. The fair took place November 28 – December 5, 2015, with three Professional Days, or días con horario exclusivo para profesionales, during which librarians and book distributors could work unimpeded by the public. In this article, I will give an overview of the preparations, attendance, and results of attending a book fair. There’s not one way to feriar, or “book fair,” so you should consider what works for your local context and personal abilities.
It’s worth noting the American Library Association’s ALA-FIL FREE PASS Program is open for registration for 2016 with a September 2 deadline. According to their website, “The Guadalajara Book Fair is offering an additional $100 to the first 100 applicants who submit their airfare confirmation by October 2nd.” Both the ALA and the FIL offer a $100 reimbursement, for a total of $200, providing you meet the deadlines and criteria. The FIL also has a robust website, available in English, that you should review before attending. Note you don’t have to speak Spanish to attend, but you will most likely rely on your colleagues and perhaps a distributor who do.
I’ll discuss the following:
- Making your Case
- Before leaving the US
- Working with a distributor
- Attending: shopping, navigating, and using technology
- Shipping materials & returning to the US
MAKING YOUR CASE
In the digital age, attending a book fair in another country may be perceived by your library’s administration or colleagues as unnecessary: “Can’t you just order these books online?” Fortunately for me, that is not the case at my institution, despite the trend of my library moving toward a more Patron-Driven Acquisition (PDA) model (which assumes that books will be available when the patron realizes they want them. Spanish-language materials, given limited print runs and other constraints, are not easily available online). Given your local situation, you may have to advocate for attending the book fair by mentioning benefits like access to limited print runs and small and independent publishers. Brushing up on persuasion techniques, like I mentioned in my first article, could be helpful. Additionally, you may have to make the case why attending the book fair is cost-effective.
Fortunately, a generous colleague of mine in SALALM (Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials) had already crunched the numbers and was willing to share that information with me so I could show the Head of Acquisitions at my institution. My colleague had compared how much it would cost to buy the books at retail in the US from a distributor versus travel expenses, purchases, and shipping costs in a do-it-yourself, or DIY, model. He found that it was significantly cheaper for him to go to the FIL and purchase and ship the books himself, given the large volume of materials he is able to purchase. He also noted that a large portion of what he bought was unique to his library in his state (around 90% of titles!) according to an examination of other libraries’ holdings via WorldCat. Unique titles in a sense are priceless because they add a richness and depth to not only your library’s collection, but the whole Interlibrary Loan landscape.
To be clear, the FIL is a professional development activity. As another SALALM colleague put it, “it’s impossible not to get professional development at the FIL.” If your library requires information about the program and sessions, check out the Training for Professionals page, as well as last year’s programming: FIL 2015 Program. There were many events, including talks by famous authors (Salman Rushdie, for example) and the OMT-FIL Translators Congress. Also, keep in mind the networking possibilities and relationships you will make with vendors and publishers. Even if you buy nothing, my colleague says, attending the FIL is useful because you learn about the publishing industry in ways you cannot at your desk. I found this to be true (even though I ended up buying a lot).
Beyond professional development, Guadalajara and its surroundings are a wonderful place to be a tourist. The nearby cities of Tlaquepaque and Tonalá are located in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area and have shops, vendors, and market days (you will need to join a tour or rent a car to get to these places). Within the city, there are plenty of historical and cultural sites. The city’s murals, by José Clemente Orozco and David Alvaro Siqueiros, are captivating. If you go beyond the city, you could visit a tequila distillery or the Guachimontones ruins with its fascinating circular stepped pyramids (and connection to the Voladores de Papantla, who you might see performing in Tlaquepaque). The language and culture immersion can only make you a better librarian and resource to your community and students.
SALALM Colleagues on a tour of the Tres Mujeres Distillery
BEFORE LEAVING THE US
I began my preparations with my library’s acquisitions department and fiscal officer. We discussed my budget, sales tax, currency conversion, and the possibility of working with a distributor. My library wanted to receive all books on one invoice, so that necessitated working with a distributor. Without one, I would have had to pay each vendor individually in cash and receive all manner of invoices, including some handwritten ones. Regarding currency, there are several ATMs located in or near the Expo Guadalajara conventions facility; however, I’m told they have a withdrawal limit of $300 USD per day and have been known to run out of cash. All of your purchases will be made in Mexican pesos; some vendors take credit cards. If you plan to spend a lot of money, I recommend getting currency from a bank in the US prior to travel and taking common safety precautions (the book fair gets really crowded!). A SALALM colleague of mine takes tax-exempt forms with her for vendors to fill out in order to do business with them later by mail.
A distributor will purchase your selected titles and ship them to your library along with an invoice with their markup on the prices. Receiving an invoice from only one company may be a benefit to your organization as was the case with mine, but you should also take into consideration what services the distributor provides, what their turnaround time is for shipping, and what their markup is on the price of the books. They may only provide you a rough estimate of the markup. Postage may also be a separate charge. Distributors often negotiate a price lower than the feria or special book fair price, so their markup will be some percentage on top of a price to which you may not be privy. The discount varies by vendor and their relationship to your distributor. My SALALM colleagues recommended various distributors to me and suggested I speak on the phone with a few of them before deciding with whom to work.
I also prepared to attend the FIL by getting to know the areas of interest of the Spanish Program faculty at my institution. I created a survey on what types of materials and content they preferred in order to delve deeper than the information that is available via their faculty profiles. I attended a faculty meeting, described the book fair, and handed out fliers with the link to the survey. They were enthusiastic about my endeavor, and their responses influenced which country and vendor/publisher stands I visited.
Universidad de Guadalajara stand
As I mentioned in my fall article, Adan Griego led the Spanish portion of the Area Studies Workshop in San Francisco last summer that provided a lot of background information on the publishing industry and market for Spanish-language library materials in the US. He is the Curator for Latin American, Mexican-American and Iberian Collections at the Stanford University Libraries, and a colleague of mine in SALALM who first began attending book fairs in 1992. In his post, Attending Book Fairs: Why It Matters, he mentions several important considerations for attending book fairs, including access to limited print runs, or tirajes, of sometimes only 250-500 copies. See photo, below, for an example of what to look for in a book:
“The print run was 500 copies.”
Adan led a pre-FIL/ALA orientation webinar for all librarians about a week before the fair, and an in-person orientation for academic librarians with Lisa Johnson (Eckert College) at one of the conference hotels, the Guadalajara Plaza Ejecutivo López Mateos (many of the area hotels have similar names, so be sure to know your hotel name and address). Adan typically does a walk-through of the Expo Guadalajara convention facility to scope vendor stand locations and possible hot items. This past year there were graphic novels about Juan Rulfo, Gabriel García Márquez, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. A distributor can also advise you on trending areas of study and other practical advice about the book fair, so if you are working with one, you should definitely chat with them before heading to the fair.
The pre-FIL/ALA orientation webinar covered concerns about what to expect: hotel facilities (they’re comfortable and comparable to US hotels), how to pack for the climate in Guadalajara, transportation concerns, etc. The webinar also covered how to get to know your library user community through census data and other ways. As an aside, I found using Uber in Guadalajara was the cheapest and quickest option when I was too tired to walk. I also found that I could get a TravelPassSM through Verizon for only $2/day that gave me access to talk, text, and data in Mexico. Other phone providers may offer similar services.
Attending the in-person orientation was especially helpful since I had some publishers and areas of research in mind. Adan and Lisa knew the vendors and even the locations of some of their stalls, which helped me to plot my course through the Expo building. Adan also mentioned that some of the stalls, like UNICEF and some of the government publishers, would hand out free materials to librarians if we asked for them.
WORKING WITH A DISTRIBUTOR
As I mentioned, a distributor will purchase your selected titles and ship them to your library along with an invoice with their markup on the prices. I chose to work with Alfonso Vijil of Libros Latinos, which has recently taken over operations of the Latin American Book Store (LABS). I worked with Alfonso because I already had an Approval Plan with LABS and knew there was the potential for receiving duplicates of the titles I selected at the FIL, so I wanted to avoid costly returns of materials. I also knew Alfonso and Linda Russo of LABS have been in the business for a long time, are themselves SALALM members, and have worked with several of my colleagues. To contract a distributor, you may want to first see if any of your established vendors offer this type of service, you can ask your professional network for recommendations, or, once you register for the FIL, you can expect to receive emails from distributors offering their services to you. You may or may not have a written agreement with a distributor about the terms of the relationship, but you should talk to your library administration if that is a concern. Many distributors operate on a personal relationship-based honor system. Some distributors may be willing to ship your materials for you on a hybrid-DIY model, allowing you to purchase and package your own materials and save a bit of money. Be aware that packaging your own materials can be exhausting, especially if you are going to haul large amounts of them across the Expo facility floor. A public librarian will have a very different experience with a distributor than an academic librarian, so be sure to find out the typical clientele of your potential distributor.
In my case, I left piles of books at each vendor stall with my card on them and Alfonso’s name written on the back. I let each vendor know that Alfonso would be coming around to pay for and pick up my books. (I’d then send a text to Alfonso so he and his team could plan to swing by certain stalls before the end of the day.) Many of them already knew him, and most seemed very at ease with the arrangement. As I mentioned, some of these books have extremely limited print runs, so if you have very specific needs, you may be able to use the online FIL catalog to identify titles that you want to purchase and call your distributor in advance to have them set aside. Some distributors prefer that you provide a list of titles to buy instead of making piles of books for them to pick up. Some even offer scanning tools to use on the barcodes of desired items (anecdotally, I heard these don’t always work well). Distributors may attempt to get your titles cheaper through another channel after the FIL is over. If this is the case, you may end up getting only 50-75% of the titles you selected at the FIL because of unavailability through those other channels. Be sure to discuss this possibility with your distributor and agree upon the best way to work together and communicate while at the FIL.
ATTENDING: SHOPPING, NAVIGATING AND USING TECHNOLOGY
Each day, I would spend about 4 hours working at the fair. It’s tedious and fun at the same time, but the work will drain you. Plan to use the other hours to network, sightsee, and attend professional development activities. Before leaving my hotel in the mornings, I would revisit my faculty survey results as well as the floor map of the Expo building. I made myself a list of the stalls and vendors I wanted to visit that day, based on my faculty needs and recommendations from Adan and other colleagues. I also kept a running estimate of my funds.
Because of the availability of WiFi throughout the venue, I used my iPad and Bluetooth keyboard to check WorldCat while making my selections. Upon entering a stand, I would start looking around for books that fit my library users’ needs. Sometimes I would speak with the staff at the stand when there was something particular I needed or was unable to find. Then, I would make a pile of books that I was interested in. Often the staff would clear a spot for me to stand or find me a chair, and I would look them up individually. Using WorldCat, I was able to check if my library already owned the title and what other nearby libraries owned it. When I determined which items I wanted to buy according to my criteria, I would make a pile of books for Alfonso to pick up and snap a photo of it.
Your criteria for the books you select will depend upon local needs, but you may also wish to consider how your purchases will fit into the larger library landscape in the US. Watch for translations of English language materials into Spanish. They can be tricky to spot, so double-check the title pages for names of translators or ask a staff person. Note that University Presses may bring older books, like a series of classic works, so you cannot assume everything at the fair is new. If you take an assistant (in my case, my dad), it cost $650 Mexican Pesos (approximately $37 USD) to pay the on-site registration for an additional person. He helped me to keep a separate handwritten list of the titles I selected at each stand, which came in useful, along with the photos of my piles of books, when reconciling invoices later.
Me and my trustworthy Sancho Panza/dad
My SALALM colleague at SUNY-Albany, Jesús Alonso-Regalado, put together some slides titled, “Making Book Fairs Friendlier Through Technology.” I won’t repeat any of the information in the slides, but I will update it: the FIL had an app by Goomeo called “FIL GDL 2015” that I found in the Play store (I don’t believe there’s an app for Apple users), that claimed to be the official app for FIL GDL 2015. There were additional unofficial apps. The Schedule was somewhat useful with events listed by date, but with 100+ events per day, you would have to scroll a lot. If you forgot which day Salman Rushdie was going to be there, you’d have to search for his name within the schedule for each individual day (a pre-filtered search). Maps were easy to use, but not searchable. Book Search was the catalog, but it did not seem to be comprehensive. The Exhibitors search worked within a country, so if you knew the name of a stand/vendor, but not its country, you could not find it easily (another pre-filtered search by country). The app does have a full-text search feature; but depending on the uniqueness of your search term, the results are potentially overwhelming. In the slides, Jesús provides some useful tips for preparing for technology, or lack thereof. He suggests taking a list of what your library already owns. I expected to have spotty or no Access to WiFi, so I obtained a list of all the books my library owns in Spanish into a spreadsheet and used the iPad App DocsToGo in order to read, search, and edit it. I didn’t end up using it because of the availability of WiFi and access to WorldCat and my library’s catalog.
The International area of the fair does not get as much traffic as the National area, so if you have to work on a non-professional day, be sure to visit the National area during professional days and save the International area for later. The International area also has a Salón de Profesionales or Professionals’ Room with a snack bar, meeting tables for consultations with publishers and other vendors, and a secure room to store your boxes if you are preparing to ship them yourself. It’s a great place to take a break. There is also a restaurant located outside the International Area near the side entrance to the facility where you can get delicious meals of typical Mexican favorites, like chilaquiles. Nearby are several hotels, which also have restaurants and business centers. The most delicious snack, however, may be the elote that you can buy from street vendors.
Professionals’ Room table
SHIPPING MATERIALS & RETURNING TO THE US
If you feel energetic and confident in your Spanish, you may wish to make arrangements with a private shipping company. There was a PakMail shipping store located on Avenida López Mateos Sur, near my conference hotel (Guadalajara Plaza Ejecutivo López Mateos), with both DHL and FedEx services. Some of my SALALM colleagues have used similar businesses in the past to ship books back to the US; others have taken a few books and DVDs back in their suitcases (take an extra empty suitcase!). My colleagues have told me DVDs may be charged duty when shipped into the US, so it’s better to put them in your suitcase if you only have a handful of them. I’m not an attorney or expert in import law, so you may also wish to contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the port where you will reenter the US. I spoke on the phone with a Customs agent in Houston who told me there are limits on the retail amount of the DVDs you bring back. He said if you have around $100-$200 worth, you are probably well within your rights to bring them to the US with no duty, but he recommended having all invoices/receipts available when declaring your goods at Customs, and suggested carrying a letter from your institution explaining the materials are for educational purposes. He also recommended getting assistance from an independent Customs Broker, especially if you are importing larger volumes of materials. Note that even if DVDs aren’t charged duty a broker will charge their own service fee and a merchandising fee. If you ship the materials yourself, a colleague warned me not to use the Mexican post, but rather FedEx Air (not Ground). If you use a ground shipping method, there’s the potential for your books to be damaged at the border, where they will be opened for inspection and re-packaged. Ground shipping requires additional paperwork and is slower, but is also cheaper, especially if you are sending large quantities of materials.
My materials arrived during January, 1 ½-2 months after I was in Mexico. I worked with the Acquisitions and Cataloging departments to arrange to have the books brought to me upon arrival, so that the Spanish Program faculty could stop by and check them out during an open house. I also talked about the book fair in my instruction sessions. One of my students was having trouble finding information about the Mexican author Jorge Volpi, and we were both surprised to find online news articles describing a talk he had given at the FIL.
The FIL is a well-attended and important cultural event in Guadalajara with lots of local, national, and international news coverage. It would have been impossible to participate in everything at the FIL, but the next time I go, I’ll be even better at “book fairing” and will make more of the opportunities to learn from the abundance of authors who attend.
Meganoticias covering the FIL
Special thanks to my SALALM colleagues Adan Griego (Stanford), Nerea Llamas (University of Michigan), Jesús Alonso-Regalado (SUNY), Melissa Gasparotto (Rutgers), Linda Russo (Latin American Book Store), and Alfonso Vijil (Libros Latinos and the Latin American Book Store). Gracias a mi padre, Richard Maxson, por acompañarme y manejar las calles de Guadalajara en su carro alquilado. Thanks also to Sara Lowe for reading my draft. All photos are my own.
Bronwen K. Maxson, MLIS
Humanities Librarian, Liaison to English & Spanish
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
My first book buying trip happened without any strategic planning. A friend of a friend had an airline ticket for two people that was about to expire and I jumped at the opportunity to travel to Guadalajara, a city I had never visited in Mexico. Mine would be accommodating expenses at a modest hotel. I had a vague idea about a book fair going on during those dates but not much else. Little did I know that I was about to embark on one of the most transformative experiences any novice Latin American Studies librarian could ask for: attending Guadalajara’s Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL).
Guided by a generous friend, Professor Sarah Poot Herrera, I remember arriving at the entrance of FIL just as the famous Mexican writer Juan Jose Arreola was greeted by locals who had gathered to felicitate him as the winner of the Juan Rulfo Literary Award. Arreola had been my friend’s teacher and mentor. They greeted each other with a warm embrace, Felicidades Maestro, she said and then she introduced me to him. I could not say anything beyond mucho gusto. Later I remember feeling like a character from Arreola’s famous short story that takes a train to an unknown destiny as I entered FIL’s exhibit hall: an unexplored world inhabited books.
The following year I asked my supervisor for permission to attend FIL and purchase a few books. There was so much excitement when she agreed that I had not even contemplated logistics to ship materials back to the Library, so I carried them in my suitcases. The $600 spent would probably have taken twice as much from my constantly diminishing budget. It was during the grim years of the early 1990′s California economy. The FIL trip was one of the few rays of hope I remember from that period.
Since those early FIL days, I have attended other book fairs over the years: Barcelona and Madrid (for LIBER), Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, Santiago and Brazil’s Bienal do Livro in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
*In Santiago one year Brazil was the featured country and the person in charge of the stand had heard about SALALM from a former colleague in Rio de Janeiro and gave me several publications with little commercial distribution. This has also been the case in both Bogota and Guadalajara with governmental agencies that cannot sell their publications and are pleased to know that libraries in the United States are eager to collect them. Some of them remember me and other library colleagues from year to year.
*As part of the first group of US Librarians sponsored by LIBER in 1999, I discovered a peripheral but vibrant LGBT publishing industry in Madrid that was not being covered by vendors supplying research materials to North American libraries.
*One year Sao Paulo publishers announced a Primavera dos Livros and I convinced colleagues from UCLA and UNC-Chapel Hill to attend. After a long silence from organizers, we found out the event had been cancelled. It was too late to cancel our trip and collectively we organized our very our Spring Book Fair with tips from other colleagues who had visited Brazil.
*In both Lima and Bogota I have visited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) whose ephemeral publications had limited print runs and an equally limited distribution. Even when freely available online, uncertainty about long term availability remained a critical issue. This was the key argument in securing a print copy for our library.
*At several of the book fairs, it was not usual to hear “get it now,” from a publishers and vendors. I was skeptical until I saw at the end of most books that 1,000 was the typical print run and in some cases, even half that much. Indeed, many titles have a limited public life: a book fair, a presentación at a bookstore, perhaps an ad in a cultural magazine and then unsold copies disappear and vendors reply to our constant claims for an unfilled order as descatalogado or agotado, indicating out-of-print. As the price of paper has increased, unsold copies are often shredded and the paper is recycled.
*In Buenos Aires one year several SALALM colleagues visited the Eloisa Cartonera workshop when the hand-made cartonero books were barely in the collecting horizon for academic libraries.
*At a recent LIBER book fair several librarians visited the Arrebato Libros book shop which specializes in poetry, fanzines and chapbooks, research materials absent from traditional vendor channels. LIBER also has a parallel antiquarian book fair both in Madrid and Barcelona that allows not only for out-of-print searching but also a learning experience to both novice and veteran librarians.
*On-site specialty bookshops (Librería de Mujeres in Buenos Aires) or timely topics (the ongoing polemic for Catalan independence from Spain) provide an oppurtunity for unique collection development.
*In the last few years Guadalajara has also hosted La Otra FIL for alternative publishers and the LIA artist book fair, both independent events augment collecting possibilities.
*Our collective presence at book fairs has made it possible to facilitate dialogue with publishers and content providers and influence a digital offer suited to our libraries.
At all of these book fairs, vendors supplying books to our libraries have also been in attendance. Not only do they facilitate shipping of materials, they also learn first-hand what are the shifting scholarly trends.
I have attended presentaciones de libros, participated in local library conferences that have coincided with book fairs and spoken at panel discussions explaining book distribution channels to local vendors. Each of these experiences has been as enriching as that accidental first book fair attendance of 1992.
Adan Griego is Curator for Latin American, Mexican-American and Iberian Collections at the Stanford University Libraries.
Macondo, that mythical place created by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and to which all of Latin America can claim as its own, was the invitado de honor at this year’s FilBo or the 28th International Bogota Book Fair.
One of the Fair’s peculiarities is that several publishers have a stand in more than one pabellón, at times confusing but often useful as items on display suit the intended audience (infantil, universidades, etc).
Overrun by teenagers and housing comic books and alternative graphic designers, Pabellón 1 seemed the place to be. Not sure if it was intentional but the religious publisher Ediciones Paulinas had a stand there as well, something worthy of magical Garcia Marquez capricho! Gabo himself would probably have responded to an upset visitor who noted: “that book is obscene,” referring to a hand-made/fanzine-like booklet with some erotic photos: algunos libros no pecan, pero incomodan.
Pabellón 3 housed not only university presses, independent publishers and some government agencies whose publications are not available for commercial distribution (Instituto Humboldt, Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica) and the word library/librarian was key in getting a copy. For a country hoping to bring an end to decades of violence, the Unidad para la Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas provided examples of tangible work in that healing process.
A year after his death, Garcia Marquez was present all over Filbo, beyond the special Macondo pabellón that hosted an exhibit of first editions of his works, panel discussions and a reading of the first chapter of One Hundred Years of Solitude. One of the panels included SALALM’s own José Montelongo discussing Gabo’s literary archives at the University of Texas.
The group of U.S. librarians hosted by FilBo could not be in better magical company as we made our way through the various pabellones.
While it may have sounded like a touch of magical realism, unfortunaley press reports noted that a first edition of Gabo’s best known works had been stolen from the special exhibit.
Adan Griego, Curator for Latin American Collections-Stanford University Libraries.
For most North American academic libraries Cuban books have taken a detour to Uruguay before arriving at our shelves. With changing relations between the United States and Cuba, there is already renewed scholarly interest in the Caribbean island. Hence a visit to the Montevideo bookshop where much of that research material is being sorted. Two days was barely sufficient to review missing titles from our collection. In the process, finding equally interesting research materials from other parts of Latin America.
The ferry across the Rio de la Plata was to take only two-hours, in the state of the art Papa Francisco Buquebus, prompting my Montevideo friends to call it a viaje santo. It was much longer and I missed a visit to the San Telmo open air market in Buenos Aires, where every visitor to the Argentine capital appears to end up on a late Sunday morning. Several years ago I found a vintage photo of 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
The hotel is a few blocks away from that book corridor on Avenida Corrientes, between the Obelisk and Callao street, proof of what some press reports have noted : Buenos Aires has the highest person to bookstore ratio in the world.
What better way to spend a late autumnal afternoon than book-browsing. Last year, one of the first ones I saw was a book written by a friend. I could not bring myself to tell him it was on sale!
Even some of the side streets house book shops. The one-block Paseo Rivarola probably goes unnoticed by most visitors to Buenos Aires. In one of those symmetrical 1920 buildings is the Librería de Mujeres. I ring the doorbell and an older lady unlocks the door, immediately asking: Qué busca? I tell her I want to see everything. Still not quite convinced that a middle-aged man would find something of interest, she points to a few sections and off I go in my incessant note-taking of interesting book titles, until I realize I could take photos of several book covers at once and not have to worry about deciphering my less and less understandable handwriting.
The 41st Buenos Aires International Book Fair opens today and there is a sense of anticipation among the group of U.S. librarians attending this year. Prior to departing we received an avalanche of requests from publishers asking for a meeting. I opted to invite them to attend a session where we would explain the dynamics of book distribution and acquisition by public and academic libraries. They listened attentively to our presentation.
Large media groups command the most visible of the various pabellones, typical of any such event. But independent publishing seems to be alive and thriving in the Southern Cone (Todo libro [no] es politico; Sólidos Platónicos and Siete logos). It appears to be the same in Spain.
At a time when print publications struggle to stay afloat, it’s almost anachronistic to have a new cultural magazine aimed at the inmesa minoría, as the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset would note. The recently launched Review: Revista de Libros, a Spanish translation of the New York Review of Books with original content in Spanish. The publisher says the premier issue has a print run of 15,000 copies and is selling well, even outside of Buenos Aires. During my long overnight trip back to the Northern hemisphere, while crossing the Equator, I will read a Spanish-version of Alma Guillermo Prieto’s piece on the disappeared Mexican student-teachers.
Waiting for the last connection of my flight to California I find one of the newspaper articles I saved from Argentine dailies: poetry appears to have as many readers as militants. Viva la poesía. Viva la Lectura. Vivan los Libros!
Adán Griego-Curator for Latin American Collections, Stanford University.
*Trip partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI and the Buenos Aires Book Fair.
To say that it was a manjar libresco would be an understatement: the 48th California Antiquarian Book Book Fair and the 2015 Artist Book Fair and Symposium, all within a few days, sometimes with overlapping schedules, was all a rare treat that only happens every other year in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Antiquarian Fair promised “collections and rare treasures of over 200 booksellers from 33 different countries…,” and indeed there were. On the high end, original manuscripts by Octavio Paz, or limited edition books with text by Pablo Neruda shared the exhibit hall with Latin American vintage travel brochures for as little as $35! One of the un-prized items was an oversize black and white photograph of Mexican revolutionaries witha semi-legible text: “V. Carranza.” The seller knew very little about the photograph until I gave some background. “If you have to ask how much it costs, you probably could not afford it,” I had been warned more than once by a veteran curator/librarian. The photo had no price tag and my friend was right!
Among the images of film celebrities there was a movie poster of Viva Zapata, which I used in class one year to point out Hollywood’s peculiar way of casting for the 1952 film, with a script written by John Steinbeck. I noted that Marlon Brando (Zapata) probably looked more like one of the students in class, while the real Zapata was most certainly darker than I. The student later thanked me in an evaluation for comparing him to such a handsome movie star!
The 5th Codex Artist Book Fair opened in the middle of a much needed rainstorm, no deterrent to the more than 1,100 enthusiastic attendees who showed up to admire the work of book artists from all over the world, with Latin America very well represented: from Lia-Libro de Artista, showcasing the work of 22 artists to Eckhard Froeschlin’s atelier in Matagalpa, Nicaragua or that of photographers like Jose Diniz (Brazil) and Patricia Lagarde (Mexico).
Books and art have often been a medium that brings attention to injustices and Codex 2015 was no exception. Mexican photographer Lorena Velázquez reminded us all of the recent disappearance of Ayotzinapa’s student teachers. The cartonero book makers were also present with a similar message clamoring for justice.
Human rights violations has also been the leit motif of CraftPressChile, with Indignity and Resistance as a third work in a series that keeps alive the memory of the desaparecidos and torturados during military rule in Chile.
The fairs were accompanied by a series of related events: an artist auction to raise funds for the families of the missing student teachers in Mexico or an exhibit on the art of Taller de Gráfica Popular artist Elizabeth Catlett catered to various audiences.
The Codex Artist Book Symposium featured author and essayist Alberto Manguel as main speaker. His early evening talk at the Book Club of California (A City Built on Books: Pedro de Mendoza and the Founding of Buenos Aires), was the right excuse to leave work early and the charla did not disappoint.
Adan Griego, Curator for Latin American Collections-Stanford University.
*Lorena Velázquez and Ayotzinapa photo by Yulia Akh
More than 20,000 book professionals descended into Guadalajara for a peregrinación del mundo del libro, as Madrid’s daily El País called the Feria del Libro (FIL). It is indeed a pilgrimage to the most important book event in the Spanish-speaking world, and there we were, over 100 librarians in the middle of it all!
For the second time in FIL’s 28 years Argentina was the featured country, bringing celebrations of Julio Cortazar’s centennial and homages to Juan Gelman and the ever-present Jorge Luis Borges. At a round table discussion on the author of Ficciones his widow commented on the most peculiar meeting of Mick Jagger (from the Rolling Stones) and Borges.
On opening day I overheard a group of students looking for Alfaguara, which in previous years had one of the largest FIL stands. I told them it was now part of Planeta. When I realized it was the wrong multinational publisher I chased after them to give the correct answer. Never say that accurate reference was lacking on a weekend! Off they went, to the Penguin Random House booth.
Another novedad at the exhibit hall was a more visible stand for Ediciones Era, one of Mexico’s leading independent publishers. True to its progressive voice, photos of the recently disappeared 43 student teachers and the words of David Huerta’s moving poem Ayotzinapa , were a constant reminder of a tragedy that has sparked civil society demonstrations all over Mexico. See English-language version.
In fact, that most tragic incident called the attention of the featured country’s delegation of artists, writers and publishers, which issued a statement of solidarity for the missing students. There was also a demonstration that left from the Fair to join another group at one of the main public spaces in Guadalajara. I was returning from an artist book exhibit downtown and was caught in the ensuring traffic jam. “Están en todo su derecho”, I remarked, when the taxi driver appeared impatient. “If our children were missing, we would be equally upset,” I added. The taxista agreed.
The many events held at FIL : (presentaciones de libro, foros, encuentros, congresos) included an homenaje to this year’s Librarian (Elsa Margarita Ramírez Leyva) and Bibliophile (Juan Nicanor Pascoe Pierce). Pascoe’s Taller Martín Pescador is familiar to many Special Collections in North America.
There was also a session with a literary translator, a vendor and a librarian (ME) to learn about publishing in the United States. For the section on libraries as a market for Spanish-language books I discussed distribution channels and differences in bibliographic materials acquired by academic and public libraries.
Special coverage from El País
*FIL logo (Feria Internacional del Libro)
*Jesus Alonso Regalado (Edicione Era stand)
Adan Griego, Stanford University Libraries.
After 25 years of spending Thanksgiving weekend at the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL), it still surprises and overwhelms a veteran bibliographer. This, the most important book event in the Spanish-speaking world, will host over 100 U.S. librarians and countless other profesionales del libro for 10 days.
Intense airport-like security did not deter the many book enthusiasts who crowded the domestic and international aisles on opening day. Commenting on the traffic jams caused by the visit of Israel’s foreign minister, a local taxista noted that he preferred it all than to blame Mexico if anything were to happen to anyone in the VIP delegation representing this year’s FIL featured country. Ya con los narcos es suficiente, alluding to the constant drug-related violence that gives Mexico negative publicity abroad.
This year FIL housed an active space for e-books with on-going presentations showcasing the latest electronic products. Will Mexican publishers sign-on this year? Indeed, Mexico lags behind Spain, Argentina, Colombia and Chile in e-book production. A vendor visiting FIL for the first time was amazed at the variety of publishers not yet available digitally, “I have lots of work awaiting me,” he confessed. We in the academic sector also await a more robust and stable digital content that our eager users expect. Even when the not so eager cling to paper, “los ebooks han llegado para quedarse,” said a fellow Mexican colleague. As they claim a growing presence in our bibliographic holdings, the challenge remains: how to archive them and make them available for future users.
The independent press seemed better represented than in previous years. In addition to the collective stand of Mexico’s “indies,” La Furia del Libro (which we had noted in late 2012) was included in the Chilean stand. Likewise, Colombia’s independent publishers were both at the collective national stand and had their own booth (also noted in an earlier posting this year).
Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru had larger spaces than in previous years while Spain’s traditionally strong collective stand covered only a fraction of the country’s publishing output, a tangible sign of that country’s ongoing financial crisis. A colleague lamented the fact that Central America’s 2012 highly visible stand was no longer present, only Guatemala appeared to have a small booth.
Aisle “A” with multiple children’s literature offerings could attract the young and not so young. And Mexico’s rich culinary tradition was highlighted in books on chiles rellenos from UNAM’s academic press, to a taco encyclopedia or a glossy book from Artes de Mexico, with a dust jacket suggesting anything but cocina mexicana!
Sometimes surprising finds were unexpected. While waiting for a colleague at the Argentine stand the iconic Mother of the Plaza de Mayo on a book cover caught my attention. Indeed, it was an award-winning children’s book: Abuelas con identidad.
With an overwhelming series of events (conferences, book signings, concerts, etc) often the conversations were just starting to reach a high point when some arrived with a reminder that only a few minutes were left. Such was the case with a discussion of Cartas transpacíficas, an epistolary dialogue among two great public figures, the Lozoya brothers, one a diplomat educated in the US and the other a medical doctor who studied in the Soviet Union. “Tell them we’ll stay for their session and buy their book,” joked one of the panelists when told that the next group (in)patiently waited outside.
The exhibit Hebraica Texts at the Palafoxiana Libray, gathered unique treasures in honor of Israel as FIL’s featured country. The accompanying catalogue provided a window into the rich and unique holdings of Puebla’s noted rare book library.
Even outside the exhibit halls there were other book-related events. A group of bookarts supporters took a FIL break one afternoon to enjoy an exhibit of artist books. Favor de tocar showcased over 100 handcrafted books, product of a series of workshops hosted by Lia: Libro de Artista, a local collective of artists, printers and students of the art of the book.
FIL was to continue for several more days but an expected last minute excursion to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas closed my yearly visit to Guadalajara. Israeli photographer Gael de Cohen’s Amen presented 30 powerful images of Judaism, Christianity and Islam through the lives of ordinary Jerusalem citizens, all with an accompanying text that included the word Peace.
Only a few doors down the hall Pintando la Educación showed 40 paintings from a variety of Mexican artists used to illustrate school textbooks. I still remember the emblematic cover of the patria from my elementary school days in Northern Mexico.
You can see images from a photo album by Mexican librarian Jesus Lau. Spain’s daily El Pais also provided special FIL-2013 coverage.
Adan Griego, Stanford University Libraries
BookExpo no es la feria más apropiada para un bibliotecario latinoamericanista. Destinos como las ferias del libro de Guadalajara, Buenos Aires y Bogotá son mucho más fructíferos para encontrar nuevos títulos, conectar con editores y familiarizarse con nuevas tendencias en la industria editorial latinoamericana.
Este año, BookExpo nos ofrecía algo de interés. Su “Global Market Forum” se centraba en la industria editorial mexicana. Esta ocasión ofrecía una excelente oportunidad para dialogar sobre la situación actual del libro mexicano en la feria del libro más importante de Estados Unidos de América. El programa se presentaba bajo el lema “Reading México”
El programa de conferencias tuvo lugar el 29 de Mayo. Se comenzó ofreciendo un panorama de la industria editorial mexicana. Interesantes los datos ofrecidos por Roberto Banchik Rothschild (Random House Mondadori): el 70% de las ventas de libros se concentran en seis editoriales globales: Planeta, Santillana, Oceano, Random House Mondadori, Ediciones B y Urano. Al 30% restante, se dedicó la siguiente sesión centrada en editoriales independientes mexicanas representadas por editores con diversos años de experiencia en el oficio: Marcelo Uribe (Ediciones Era), Diego Rabasa (Sexto Piso) y Guillermo Quijas (Almadía). En algún momento de la charla, se señaló que la media de títulos publicados por una editorial independiente mexicana ronda los 25. Esta cifra me hizo reflexionar sobre la inexistencia de al menos una copia de estos libros en las bibliotecas estadounidenses. Estamos hablando de pocos títulos. Por lo tanto, esto no es un problema de fondos para su adquisición como de una necesidad de una mejor coordinación y un aumento de los programas de desarrollo de colecciones cooperativos.
Dos de las sesiones de la tarde se dedicaron a la cadena del libro y a proyectos digitales. Con respecto al primer tema, se habló de todo el proceso de producción y distribución. Me resultó sorprendente que no se tratara la cuestión de la distribución de libros electrónicos desde México al resto del mundo. Me pregunto si esto significa que la única manera de conseguir libros electrónicos mexicanos será a través de las grandes compañías que ofrecen servicios bibliotecarios en Estados Unidos (EBSCO, Proquest-Ebrary- , Overdrive) o especializadas en libros en español u otras lenguas como Casalini y Digitalia. ¿Se puede permitir el ecosistema del libro mexicano el lujo de ignorar este eslabón de la cadena del libro? ¿Podrá así sobrevivir su diversidad? ¿Quién distribuirá aquellos libros mexicanos independientes que no sean rentables para las grandes compañías? Preguntas todavía sin respuestas. Durante la sesión dedicada a proyectos digitales, Gustavo Flores presentó una serie de interesantes proyectos en curso concebidos por CONACULTA. Asimismo, Maurits Montañez mostró algunas de las excelentes aplicaciones para dispositivos móviles que ha creado la empresa Manuvo como la versión interactiva del poema “Muerte Sin Fin” de José Gorostiza.
Stand de México en BookExpo 2013
40 editoriales participaron en el stand de México. La sensación subjetiva al pasear por el stand era que la mayor parte de las publicaciones eran de CONACULTA y del Fondo de Cultura Económica. La diversidad de la industria editorial Mexicana se notaba con la presencia de Almadía, Trilce y algunas más pero el número de títulos de las editoriales independientes era exiguo. De todas maneras, es digno de agradecer la presencia de algunas joyitas presentes como la obra “Migrar” de José Manuel Mateo y Javier Martínez Pedro publicado por ediciones Tecolote que narra la experiencia de un niño en su camino migrante a Estados Unidos. Un libro que debería formar parte no sólo de bibliotecas infantiles sino también de bibliotecas académicas. Y la obra “El libro negro de los colores” de Merena Cottin y Rosana Fría publicado también por ediciones Tecolote . Un hermoso libro, todo negro, con dibujos en relieve y que incluye el texto en lenguaje Braille.
University at Albany, SUNY
By the time I arrived in Colombia’s capital for the 2013 Bogotá Book Fair (Filbo) the book festival had already opened its doors to the public, with a group of SALAMistas among those in attendance. A la caza de los libros noted Wisconsin’s Paloma Celis Carbajal as she joined an eager weekend crowd of book enthusiasts.
One of the first stops was Arte Dos Gráfico. Our library already holds a large selection of their artist books, and after a two year absence from the Fair, there were bound to be novedades to enhance ours and the collections of other SALALM libraries.
Thanks to my SALALM colleagues who had already explored the many pabellones, on my first day at the fair I knew I should stop by the aisle housing several independent publishers: Luna, Laguna, and La Silueta that were new to many of us. Their collective output ranged from detective fiction to graphic novels. Along with Tragaluz, they provided a representative sample of quality titles from the independent press.
The ever present e-book could also be found at Filbo, and not just at the “bigigies.” The independents have realized that a new community of readers expects digital content and some of them now sell e-book cards at over 12 bookshops in Bogotá where lectores can buy an e-book and upload it to their laptop, ipad, etc. They are also available for several e-readers. An adventurer SALAMista wanted some detective fiction and bought an e-card on the spot. We hope to hear a report on that experience.
The fair is divided into several pabellones, with some publishers having a presence at all of them, often confusing but also reminding a tired Californian of the variety of Colombia’s publishing output. This year Portugal was the featured country and fair publicity included several allusions to a “sea of books” that “engulfed the reader.”
At one of the booths selling remainders “from the best publishers in the world,” the vendedor seemed certain that my accent was from Spain and asked if I knew the Nobel laureates from the other side of the Atlantic. I named what I could remember (Cela, Benavente and Echegaray) and he asked, “were they any good?” I was tempted to give him the polite version of NPI (no puedo informarle), but opted for “algunos mas que otros.”
Wondering through a sea of books one can find the unexpected, like a cookbook (Cocina criolla cartagenera de Veddá Veddá, OCLC: 757913880) from Transformemos, which has been honored at a culinary contest in Paris, as the radio report notes. An earlier video showcased the proud Cartageneros long before their recetas de cocina were to become an international sensation.
After an exhausting 2 days at the crowded Corferia aisles, a late afternoon excursion to the movies became an adventure through a cartelera dominated by foreign titles, with only one Colombian production that turned out to be the right choice: Roa. The film explores the 1948 killing of a well-known political leader in what became the Bogotazo, that left more than 3,000 dead and ushered in a period of political violence. It’s based on the novel El crimen del siglo and has been reissued with the protagonist on the cover to capitalize on what is certain to become a local hit, which we hope can reach the art house circuit in the United States.
Although he has lived away for many years, Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia’s Nobel laureate, dominates the literary scene and he is being introduced to a new generation of readers via a graphic novel (Gabo memorias de una vida mágica) published simultaneously in Colombia and Spain.
On the last day the weather indicated rain and a visit to Librería Lerner seemed like good way to supplement Filbo’s offering. The Lerner-Norte staff endured the capricious requests of 2 SALAmistas, at times bombarding the knowledgeable Don Willie with an avalanche of non-existent titles: “todas la reinas in the title and published by la gallina ciega,” insisted yours truly. Don Willie patiently looked around and found it, Locas de felicidad (OCLC: 611409632) published by La iguana ciega!
The 2013 Filbo will be open to the public for 14 days. It expects over 400,000 vistors, among them would have been a group of SALALM and REFORMA librarians whose visit was supported by book fair organizers: Cámara Colombiana del Libro and Proexport. The group’s visit was highlighted on the book fair’s blog.
Curator for Iberoamerican Collections
Stanford University Libraries
1) Feria del Libro
2) Hortensia Calvo (Tulane), Teresa Chapa (North Carolina-Chapel Hill), courtesy of Adan Griego
3) E-books, courtesy of Adan Griego
4) Entrance to Portugal’s Pabellón, courtesy of Paloma Celis-Carbajal (Wisconsin)
5) Gabo graphic novel, publisher image.
6) Lerner Book shop staff, courtesy of Adan Griego
7) SALALM librarians, courtesy of Adan Griego
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