The couple next to me cannot contain their enthusiasm: Chile’s has won the Copa America. “I also had to watch the game in English,” says the LAN flight attendant, equally excited. I don’t want to ruin their festive moment with a comment on the dark history of the national stadium where the game was played, also used as mass detention center in the early days of the Pinochet dicatatorship.
Instead, I tell them I saw the results online while preparing for a trip to Lima’s Peru Service Summit that would match local publishers and software developers (among others) to meet with potential compradores. It’s not the first time that librarians have been labeled as buyers, as much as we would like to be known as agentes culturales, or profesionales de la informacion, maybe even intermediarios del conocimiento.
It’s been more than ten years since my last visit to Lima, which now-a-days seems to be a top culinary destination, according reports as varied as a business daily, and even a men’s magazine.
The morning will start in the Miraflores section of the Peruvian capital with a tour by a local limeña. She understands my bibliographic obsessions. The first visit will be to Promsex: Centro de Promocion y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos, a well-established NGO that has issued several reports on women’s reproductive rights and LGBT issues. Their publications are now fully available online and are deposited at the country’s national library, much like any other local print publication with an ISBN. The limited print run of 500 copies is also distributed throughout the country, reaching those areas with limited internet access. We meet one of the group’s leaders who shares our concern for documenting the history of LGBT groups and other like entities.
The next stop will be the iconic El Virrey bookshop. My friend asks about some recent publications: Crónicas de la diversidad and Dulce Fanzin. The sales clerk recognized the first one, but the other one appears to have a somewhat erratic distribution, although it’s already been noted by other online publications. He directs us to La Libre, a book shop at Barranco, on the other side of town. Not wanting to wear out my host, I opt to come back later. I can spend hours on end, but there are more pressing matters, like a much deserved lunch break.
In search of a well-known restaurant, which is closed on Mondays, of course, we opted for another one across the street. There were only two tables left so the food must be good. The traditional lomo saltado, even with my dislike for onions, turned out to be as tasty as the one prepared by a good Peruvian friend back in California, “with the secret sazón of my grandmother,” she always noted.
The recent New York Times 36 hours travel section includes Barranco as one of the must-visit sections of Lima. We arrive one day too late, the independent presses have just had their first book fair and the bookshop we are searching for is closed on Mondays! What are we to do? Un buen cafecito…of course!
My friend suggests a traditional Barranco locale, where I ask for a café con leche. The owner says they don’t serve such a thing, nada mas café solo, he clariefies! That other one can be found by the opposite side of the park, without naming the well-known American chain with an “S.” Not my idea to savor something local, but we find a most unexpected place at an old train car converted into a coffee shop/restaurant where they do have café con leche.
The afternoon will end with a visit to Librería Inestable, already highlighted by Spain’s daily El País. I select several poetry chapbooks, some of which are missing a price. Since the owner is out of town, I will have to return a few days later.
For the next book hunting recorrido there will be three of us, Teresa Chapa (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Phil MacLeod (Emory), starting at Sur. We probably drove the sales clerk crazy with so many questions. The young man answered politely and patiently before we left, each with at least a book bag.
From there it would be to Barranco again, and La Libre has just opened for business. We spoke each other’s language…ours was probably their best sale ever. Hopefully it helped make up for the loss from a break-in of a few weeks earlier.
A Lima visit could not be complete without cebiche, and that was our next stop: Canta Rana just around the corner. Some local friends had other suggestions but that day we were lucky that Phil Macleod went ahead of us to get a table because there was already a growing line to find a seat. Even our lunch hour could not be complete without some book business. We were joined by the publisher of Paracaídas Editores. He was probably not expecting to sell all his books in one seating! Thanks to fellow SALALM member José Ignacio Padilla for the contact.
We are already running late for our next appointment on the other side of town at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos where fellow SALALM librarian Virginia García is awaiting us. They also have a bookshop! From there, the taxi will bring us back to Miraflores to Contracultura, a graphic novel paradise where we will add more book bags. It’s past 7pm and the traffic is already heavy, if not would have visited one more shop before calling it a day.
Tomorrow is the start of two intense days of meetings with publishers at the Peru Service Summit. There will be the usual question about buying directly from a publisher and our explanation on the added services that a distributor can provide. Of course, there are always discoveries, like another independent press, with a most suggestive name Animal de invierno…or the press with profusely illustrated texts that are more than just another coffee table book.
Before embarking on the long flight back to California, there would be one more stop at our distributor’s office to review books not sent via our approval plan and check on new publishers discovered through a few days of book hunting in Lima. Both Teresa Chapa and Phil MacLeod will stay longer and visited a book shop recommended by Virgina at the Instituo de Estudios Peruanos. Communitas was not too far from our hotel and they both went on the day I was heading to the airport through an unending sea of Friday afternoon traffic. I am sure they will report on their treasure hunt!
Stanford University Libraries.
On the same trip that took him to Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham purchased an enormous cache of manuscripts, printed books and periodicals that are among Yale University’s prized possessions. A century after Bingham’s acquisition, I’m visiting Lima on behalf of the Benson Latin American Collection. But I get ahead of myself.
The passage of time and the consistent investment of library funds in the region has diminished the expeditionary character of working in Peru– llamas are no longer employed, DHL is. But the excitement of discovery remains very much a part of working here.
Because it is too fugitive to identify, too cheap to profitably distribute, or in formats that booksellers disdain, much of what scholars desire to view cannot be acquired through established channels. For instance, this trip enabled the purchase of Peruvian feature films, many of which are located nowhere in North American research libraries, and a side trip to Bolivia brought back (alive) a collection of early 20th century photographs from Amazonia. Hiram would be proud!
Travel also nourishes relationships in a country where face-to-face contact remains a coin of the realm. Over the past year I have met twice with the director of Peru’s National Library to establish an agreement that deposits the personal papers of the feminist poet and political activist, Magda Portal, in the National Library and sends scanned images of the materials to Austin for mounting in our digital library. Expect additional details soon.
Your man in Lima,
October/November is a good time to visit Peru and Bolivia as both Lima and Cochabamba host book fairs. Neither should be compared with their better-known South American counterparts in Bogota, Santiago de Chile or Buenos Aires. But both give a good accounting of book production in their countries.
32 Feria Internacional del Libro Ricardo Palma <http://www.mirafloresperu.com/turismo-miraflores-lima-peru/feria-libro-ricardo-palma.php>
October 19- November 1, 2011
Held in Parque Kennedy, Miraflores
I counted 90 stands, between publishers and booksellers. Major academic publishers, some listed below, were in full force as were others, e.g. Casa de la Biblia, that produce material not usually of interest to research libraries.
Academic Publishers and their 2011 publications:
Universidad Alas Peruanas. Memorias del arqueologo Eloy Linares Malaga. La Paz despues de la violencia en el Peru. Belaunde, el pueblo lo hizo. El compartir.
Universidad San Martin de Porres. Del cielo a la tierra. Los arrieros de Chuquibamba.
IFEA. La ciudad de Los cholos.
Universidad de San Marcos. La increible historia de una guerra. La casona de San Marcos. Trabajos de historia, religion, cultura y political en el Peru. Juventud y clandestinidad en Lima. La produccion cientifica en San Marcos. Derecho penal en el Tahuantinsuyu.
Also exhibiting, without showing 2011 imprints, were Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, Universidad Ricardo Palma, Congreso de la Republica, Centro Bartolome de las Casas, Banco Central de la Reserva, Fondo Editorial.
The most interesting news I got at the fair is the names of several out of print sources: Casa del Libro Viejo (www.libroviejoymas.com); Libreria Aleph, Mario Morales owner (I have only the phone number 991964365); IDEAL Libros y Revistas Antiguos del Peru, Av. Nicolas de Pierola, email@example.com; Libreria Inestable, Porta 185 “B”, Miraflores.
And although they were not at the fair, our old friends at Libreria El Virrey have relocated their store in San Isidro to Bolognesi 510 in Miraflores. They maintain their sucursal downtown, Pasaje Nicolas de Rivera near the old post office.
V Feria Internacional del Libro de Cochabamba
27 October – 6 November
Campo Ferial de Alalay
Smaller than the Lima fair, but not by much. Argentina, specifically Salta, was this year’s international invitee. Authorities from Cochabamba and Salta announced an agreement whereby collections of Argentine and Bolivian fiction would be exchanged between the two cities and housed in appropriate locations.
The Argentines stole the show with what Los Tiempos reported as forty stands. Of course, I was there for the Bolivians. Editorial Nuevo Milenario, a publisher new to me, was showing Edmundo Paz Soldan’s latest novel, Norte. Universidad Mayor de San Andres had several new titles, including Ciudades en transformacion, coordinated by Patricia Urquieta; and Fundacion Tierra had copies of Reconfigurando territorios.
Other Bolivian publishers featuring 2011 imprints included:
Universidad Mayor San Simon- Movimientos sociales en torno al agua en Bolivia.
Fundacion Quipus- La corrupcion en Bolivia and Facetas de la contraversia con Chile.
Museo de Etnologia y Folklore- Reunion anual de etnologia, 24
Vicepresidencia de la Nacion- Archivos militares de Bolivia and Archivos graficos (cartels) de Bolivia
PIEB- Ciudad sin fronteras and Formaciones y transformaciones
Plural- Hablemos de tierras
CEDIB announced a compilation on compact disk of its long-running Bolivian news service, 30 dias.
Some may remember a Bolivian feminist organization, “Mujeres Creando,” from their appearance at a recent LASA meeting. They’re still at it, mas que jamas, and among the publications they showed in Cochabamba were: La pobreza, un gran negocio; Mujeres creando … mas and Ninguna mujer nace para puta.
La Paz Bookstores
Libreria Yachaywasi. Avenida Villazon, Paisaje Trigo 447. Tel: 2442437. Near the Universidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA) and because of its location, the best and largest academically-oriented bookstore in the city. Especially good for journals.
Libreria Gisbert y Cia. 1270 Comercio. Large stock but much of it is text books. Closed shelves limit browsing.
Los Amigos del Libro. Its traditional location on Calle Mercado now houses two fast food restaurants. Currently occupies a less inviting space with a less interesting stock. Calle Ballivian 1275, next to Libreria Juridica Temis.
Libreria Don Bosco. 1805 16 de Julio (El Prado). Once a very good book store and publisher of scholarly journals, increasingly devotional.
PIEB. Avenida Arce 2799, esquina Calle Cordero. Edificio Fortaleza, piso 6, oficina 601. Features its own publications, including periodicals Tinkazos, Nexos, Temas de debate and Medio ambiente y sociedad.
Plural Editores. Avenida Ecuador, esquina Rosendo Gutierrez. Wide selection of works published by Plural, including journal back files.
Of specialized interest:
Museo Nacional de Arte. Plaza Murillo, corner of Calle Comercio.
Museo de Etnografia y Folklore (MUSEF). corner Sanjines and Ingavi.
Both museums are dependencies of the Banco Nacional de Bolivia and feature BNB’s publications, but have much additional materials on art and anthropology.
Casa Municipal de la Cultura Franz Tamayo. Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz, esquina Potosi. Features publications of the Municipalidad de La Paz, including music CDs and films.
Out of Print:
Libreria BAUL del Libro. Avenida Villazon, Edificio Viveross No. 1957. Near UMSA; large stock of academic books.
Associacion de Libreros Mariscal de Santa Cruz. Many small stalls now consolidated in the newly refurbished Centro Comercial Lanza. North of the San Francisco Church. Most active on weekends.
Paisaje Comercial Marina Nunez del Prado. A series of stalls situated along a walkway beside the Rio La Paz. You descend to river level at several points, e.g. one a half block east (upward) from the corner of 16 de Julio and Camacho.