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Stirring Up the Book Publishing Hornet’s Nest

Stirring Up the Book Publishing Hornet’s Nest / 14ymedio, Jose Gabriel
Posted on July 11, 2015

14ymedio, José Gabriel Barrenechea, Santa Clara, 7 July 2015 — The
printed edition of the weekly Vangaurdia* dared mess with hornets. In
her article “Let him who does not know you buy you?” the young
Laura Rodríguez Fuentes identified several inconvenient
truths that will surely make waves in the tiny world of Cuban letters.

According to the journalist “many people ask if publishing houses are
really thinking about the public for whom their publications are
intended.” Her response, while only inferred, is of course no. Ms.
Rodríguez continues: “An assessment of what is published is urgently
needed, while opinion polls on topics, genres, and authors should be
disclosed nationwide.”

After acknowledging that “except for children’s titles, the quality of
many books is poor,” Ms. Rodríguez goes on to scrutinize Cuban
publishing marketing strategies. With plenty of evidence to support her
claims, she states that these policies are too focused on yearly book fairs.

Ms. Rodríguez continued by shoving a stick into a hornet’s nest and
shaking it violently with the following paragraph: “Effective book
publishing policies cannot be focused on writers who want to have their
books published just because. They should focus on the consumer, the

State-sanctioned authors control Santa Clara’s publishers for their own
ends. Despite the efforts of qualified editors such as Isaily Pérez and
especially Idiel García of Ediciones Sed de Belleza (Thirst for Beauty
Publishers), it is the clique of authorized writers that decides who can
and cannot get published, while guaranteeing they will be published
first. In order to ensure their place in the “publishing strategy,”
these authors will write anything and on any subject.

The fact is that this clique is more concerned with making money than
having its work disseminated. Such was the case in recent events in the
town of Remedios. Several writers, who were not paid immediately for
their work on a special publication commemorating the town’s 500th
anniversary, behaved very uncivilly. According to off-the-record
sources, even the got involved as fists flew in middle of a brawl
worthy of the worst Havana slum.

It seems none of the authors involved cared much about the significance
that comes with being part of such a publication. Their only concern was
cold hard cash and the fleeting moment.

Ms. Rodríguez concludes with the following observation: “There should be
a direct link between opinion polls and the titles offered at book
fairs. Book publishing should not be centered on favoritisms, but rather
on consumers’ preferences and wishes.”

We could not agree with her more.

* Translator’s Note: The official newspaper of Villa Clara Province’s
Communist Party’s Central Committee.

Translated by José Badué

Source: Stirring Up the Book Publishing Hornet’s Nest / 14ymedio, Jose
Gabriel Barrenechea | Translating Cuba –

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