Thursday October 8th 2015




Posts Tagged ‘book fairs’

Reporting from the Bogota Book Fair

poster-promocional-de-la-28a-feria-internacional-del-libro-de-bogotá-suministrado-por-corferiasMacondo, 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.

salamistasFilbo2015The 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.

Letter from the Rio de la Plata*

mvd2015photoFor 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.

ba2015indipubsLarge 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.

Rare Book Week West: Manuscripts, First Editions, Photos and Artist Books

California_Bookfair_2015To 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!

Viva_Zapata!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).

lorenacartoneraBooks 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

Reporting from Guadalajara’s 2014 Book Fair

FIL-Guadalajara-final-620x330More 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.

eraJesuspoemAnother 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.

FIL2014PresentationTitle 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.

See also:
Special coverage from El País

*FIL logo (Feria Internacional del Libro)
*Jesus Alonso Regalado (Edicione Era stand)

Adan Griego, Stanford University Libraries.

Print, Digital & Rare share stage @ Guadalajara’s 2013 International Book Fair

programa-de-la-fil-2013_126445.jpg_34417.670x503After 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.

Pabellón-área-del-libro-electrónicoThis 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. QCelogio2 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. LIBRO 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.

LIAopeningEven 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.
Libro de Texto Gratuito
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

La Industria Editorial de México en el “Global Market Forum” de BookExpo America 2013

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.

Jesús Alonso-Regalado

University at Albany, SUNY


Bogota’s 2013 Book Fair: A Brief “Recorrido”

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.

Adan Griego,
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

See other images in Facebook

Bandits, Rebels and Other Subversives at an Antiquarian Book Fair.

The month of February is shorter this year but it brought plenty of visual stimulation: from the Codex International Artist Book Fair right up to the California Antiquarian Book Fair, with several of the same exhibitors and librarians attending both events.

On the Fair’s opening day private collectors are among the first to arrive looking for one (or several) of the many treasures brought from all over the world, some more affordable than others. This Fair alternates between Los Angeles and San Francisco and one year the rumor was that a Hollywood actor in dark glasses was among those “early birds.”

As librarians, our mission is to document culture in its multiple manifestations. And there we were: Theresa Salazar (Bancroft Library), several other colleagues from as far as England and yours truly, sharing the exhibit hall with SALALM vendors (Alfonso Vijil and Beverly Karno) along with other rare book enthusiasts.

This year there were fewer exhibitors from Europe, mostly from the U.K and Germany, with others from France, Holland and even one from Hungary.

As I made my way through the exhibit hall, I encountered a pristine copy of Album Pintoresco de la Repúbica Mexicana, from a French exhibitor, with a price tag of $30,000 for the original 1850 edition! I asked if I could see it and the vendor was most affable. How can I forget the image of the women making tortillas. Once I had a peculiar reference question: to verify if a similar image by Diego Rivera had a title other than tortilleras. The patron wanted to include it in a textbook to teach Spanish, where the language has to be as neutral as possible and she hoped for another word to reference that culinary art that other visual artists like Carl Nebel captured in their travelogues.

At $1,200 and even $3,500 a copy of the 19th-century California “bandit” Tiburcio Vasquez looked like a bargain! The legendary Californio has been in the news recently after the city of Salinas, birth place of Nobel laureate John Steinbeck, decided to name a school after Vasquez. Interestingly, news headlines used some of the same words from this book: bandit and murderer. Other media venues opted for gang leader, outlaw and even serial killer!

More affordable items could also be found, like Mexican vintage travel brochures for less than $30. Some pamphlets were jointly issued by the National Tourist Council and the railways, while others came from the Pemex Travel Club and were clearly designed to showcase the country’s cultural heritage to tourists. Gone was that 19th century publicity aimed at luring potential foreign investors to mining and agricultural ventures during the Porfiriato when an add referred to the regions of the western sierras as a “sub-tropical Switzerland.”

There were other visually attractive items, like a Spanish Civil War poster. By the last day of the Fair it seemed to have found a home away from the Bolerium Books radical movements collection. From the same period, there was also a display case with several first editions of Hemingway’s novels next to an original matador outfit and photos of the writer and other celebrities at a corrida, clearly when the fiesta brava was considered quite a glamorous event.

Not everything was old, the current can gain new life as unique and rare, like the limited edition portfolio of protest art: Migration NOW, or even a historical map of 1825 North America, reminded us that the region constantly experienced movements of people both North-South and East-West, and this time: North-South.

Adan Griego, Stanford University Libraries.

1) Alfonso Vijil, Theresa Salazar and Clemente Orozco (courtesy of Adan Griego)
2) Beverly Karno and Adan Griego (courtesy of Peter Hanff, Bancroft Library)
3) Las tortilleras (
4) Tiburcio Vasquez (
5) Travel posters (courtesy of Adan Griego)
6) Protest prints (

Latin America at the 2013 International Codex Artist Book Fair

When the first Codex Artist Book Fair opened in 2007 it was a bold move, probably questioned by those who saw the future of books in anything but the printed word, much less, those handmade, not matter how artistically crafted. Six years later, opening day for Codex IV experienced such a success that organizers ran out of tickets and had to improvise as the day progressed. An elderly couple wondered what was going on: “it’s a book fair, an artist book fair,” I added, on my way the exhibit hall. They were seen later that day browsing the aisles with almost 200 exhibitors from all over the world.

As in previous years, Europe had the largest contingent but Latin America was well represented with over 10 artists and exhibitors: Mexico alone had eight registered exhibitors. Several of the Latin American artist books are present in many SALALM libraries, like the works of Taller Ditoria from Guadalajara and Catherine Docter from Guatemala. Perhaps less familiar is the cultural production of several other book artists, all of whom have been admired by the more than 4,000 attendees at Codex IV.

Mexico’s varied presence is due in great part to the Codex Foundation’s efforts to reach beyond Western Europe and Anglophone speaking-areas. A recent cultural “encuentro” of California and Mexican book artists was held in several venues: Tequila and Guadalajara (Fall 2011) and Puebla (Summer 2012). That fruitful artistic dialogue has come North. It will soon travel East to our nation’s capital later this Spring at the Mexican Cultural Institute.

Latin America was also present with fellow SALALMista Steven Daiber from Red Trillium Press, who had recently returned from Cuba, also attending from the Caribbean was Consuelo Gotay. Germany’s Eckhard Froeschlin arrived via Matagalpa, Nicaragua. San Francisco’s Luis Delgado Qualtrough and Moving Parts Press augmented Latin America’s presence.

You can check Codex Mexico for more photos of both Codex 2013 and the previous exhibits in Mexico. There will also be updates on the upcoming Washington, DC show that opens in late March and will have a symposium on April 19-20.

See also blog posting from Codex III in 2011.

Adan Griego, Stanford University Libraries.

Todos somos lectores: Reporting from the 2012 Guadalajara International Book Fair

At 26 you can claim a life of your own and Guadalajara’s 26th International Book Fair (FIL) has certainly lived up to that expectation, having been called the most important book event in the Spanish language by Spain’s leading daily El País, which carried a supplement dedicated to FIL events.

This year Chile was the featured country (also “honored” in 1999) and its book stand experienced such an avalanche of readers that by the second day a young writer said “I want to move to Mexico, here thye read my books,” pointing to her recent novel…clearly on the way to selling out.

Among the profesionales del libro were 100 librarians from the United States as part of the ALA-FIL Pass program, while fewer in numbers than in previous years, they were quite an enthusiastic group of book buyers. Jesus Alonso Regalado (SUNY-Albany) can probably claim to be the single most eager client: he acquired more than 100 new titles at the Chilean stand…and still had several days left!

As usual, the media conglomerates held the largest and most visible stands but there were also signs of other voices with Corredor Sur; Contrabandos; EGALES or Chile’s independent publishers and the more alternative Furia del Libro, all pointing to a segment of the book industry that struggles to remain competitive.

What was to have been a celebration of the literary prize awarded since 1992 became a cause célèbre: this year’s winner, Peruvian writer Alfredo Bryce Echenique, was accused of plagiarism. His name, while barely mentioned by organizers, still appeared in news coverage. With multiple events held in his honor, it almost felt as if the recently deceased Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes had been the winner. In fact, it was Fuentes who had calmed FIL’s boisterous crowd at the opening ceremony six years earlier as it booed the outgoing Minister of Culture.

The current Minister, Consuelo Saizar, has gained more respect than her predecessor. For a recent profile in the popular culture monthly Gatopardo, Saizar noted among her accomplishments the acquisition of personal libraries of several Mexican writers. These collections are housed in the Biblioteca de México “José Vasconcelos and are being made available to users in a state of the art facility similar to that of Guadalajara’s recently opened Biblioteca Pública del Estado de Jalisco “Juan José Arreola.”

This new Jalisco State Library has a capacity for 2 million volumes and among its holdings is the Benjamin Franklin collection of works on the United States. On FIL’s opening day, the United States ambassador presented a book donation to augment this collection at a ceremony attended by several REFORMA colleagues and I. This modest attempt at cultural diplomacy is noteworthy and could be replicated elsewhere, it costs so little and goes so far.

Librarians were not just book buyers: Paloma Celis Carbajal (Univ. of Wisconsin) participated on a panel discussion about the editoriales cartonersas; Patricia Figueroa (Brown University) was busy interviewing new writers for Nuevas Referencias, her bilingual blog; and I presented on

One of the local dailies misquoted some of my presentation but Milenio’s summary of the current e-book landscape in U.S. libraries and the need for additional Spanish language digital content was right on the mark.

I hope to continue presenting with humor and tono jocoso, as the Guadalajara daily complimented this humble experto!

Adan Griego, Stanford University Libraries

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