March 4, 2021

The publishing business of aging | Culture


The Spanish culture does not remember, but goes crazy to commemorate, he wrote Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio almost three decades ago, and his improvised aphorism comes as a glove to this 2019 in which everything is editorial anniversaries. They take years Tusquets Y Anagram (fifty), Planet (70), Cliff and Minuscule (20), but so do certain titles, such as The time between seams, by María Dueñas (10), and The first man, by Albert Camus (25), to name a few examples. And what happens when a publisher, or a certain title, is years old? That, between its celebrations a new bet by the title in question is included, when the ephemeris is of a book, or the relaunching of the part of its catalog that can be more profitable, when it is of a seal. The operations are recurrent and induce to think that, unlike, let's say, in classical dance, aging is profitable in the publishing world.

"It's not about taking advantage of the anniversary," says Juan Cerezo, editor of Tusquets, "but to put value on authors and titles." For Cerezo, the exercise is similar to what would be done looking through a photo album. "Fulfilling years allows you to look back and be aware of the path traveled: the stories make sense when we see where they lead, or, in our case, where they have driven." Tusquets, that this Thursday has mounted a party in Barcelona that aspires to mark epoch in the annals hedonistas of the book in Spanish, already began to celebrate the half century with a new collection in which they recover "Hits of the seal "como The games of the late age, by Luis Landero, Y The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera. The anniversary, says Cerezo, is the excuse. The important thing is that the book tries to find, again, its path, as has happened with The first man, by Albert Camus. Until nothing, languished in the bottom of the seal. In less than a month, it has reached the second edition.

The Tusquets team in 1980, with its founders Antonio López Lamadrid (top) and Beatriz De Moura (front row, second from right).


The Tusquets team in 1980, with its founders Antonio López Lamadrid (top) and Beatriz De Moura (front row, second from right).

On what is the selection based? Silvia Sesé responds, publisher of Anagrama – which has also relaunched coinciding with the 50th century paperback books (Compact, in the jargon of the seal) -: "25 titles were chosen by the booksellers, and they even took care of the cons, and the another 25, we chose them, and the contras are responsible for authors of the house. " Thus, the new edition of The conjuing of the ceciuos, by John Kennedy Toole, the long seller by antonomasia of the publishing house, it is recommended by Concha Quirós, the person in charge of the bookshop Cervantes de Oviedo. The spirit, in this case, is to pay tribute to those who have made the possible path. "Nor is it about abusing anniversaries, if they are not empty of meaning," says the editor. The question should be whether the return of these 50 titles is profitable. "We must think that they are emblematic titles, which are still alive, with continuous reissues," says Sesé. That is, the risk is minimal. They will always work. And by the way, it will be useful to talk about them again and aspire to find "new readers".

Something similar happened with Salamandra and Harry Potter. In 2017 the 20 years of the first title were celebrated, harry potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and the publishing house commemorated it by relaunching it in four versions that represented the four houses to which a child magician from Hogwarts (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin) can belong, with unpublished texts by JK Rowling herself speaking of each of the houses. "Each generation should have its own Harry Potter," says its editor, Sigrid Kraus. The commitment to a safe value is doubled and, in doing so, the tyranny of the novelty that reigns in the bookstores is fought. "The publisher must think all the time about how to sell their fund, for consistency with the catalog, for visibility of the most representative authors, and for profitability!", Says Silvia Sesé. And it would seem that any anniversary is a good opportunity in that sense. Although not in all cases.

Acantilado, the label directed by Sandra Ollo, with about 100 reprints per year, believes that its catalog "is very alive" and that it would not make sense to "mark certain titles", nor rescue any, because they are always available. "We focus the anniversary in another way: publish news from significant authors of the house, and that there is a balance between novelty and substance, through what we call elective affinities. The idea is that everything flows, that the titles dialogue, in some way, between them, and that the past, the present and the future are intermingled. "

Something similar happens in Tiny, which was also born in 1999. "We constantly reprint the most significant titles, so it would not make sense to relaunch anything. It is also true that our catalog is very compact, and very chosen, and that the fund does not stop moving, "says Valeria Bergalli, editor of Tiny. Its celebration is not so scandalous, it would be said, like the rest, but they can not avoid returning to the limelight, as fortunate victims of the commemorative madness of which Ferlosio spoke.

Live music in a castle to throw the rest

As in a wedding or a birthday, the celebrant receives a lot, but also has to spend. Said in editorial terms: the stamps enter by the resale of their safe values, yes, but they are also forced to throw the rest in the celebration. Tusquets has rented a castle to meet this Thursday in Barcelona for five decades, something that made the annual budget "was added a special game that, fortunately, was approved," says its editor, Juan Cerezo. There will be live music, cocktail dinner. No expense has been repaired. A number? He does not think to give it.

In any case, it is clear that celebrating is also spending. But, says Jorge Herralde, from Anagrama, "it's done with pleasure". "Anniversaries are profitable for the distinguished public and for the fans, for us it is an accessory issue from which we only get media revenue," says the veteran editor. The celebration of 50 years of Anagrama will be held on September 26 in the same place where the 40 was held, the Principal restaurant, of which all, "collaborators, friends, authors and team" keep "very good memories " And what about Planet, which also celebrates nothing less than 70 years? "We will wait for the award to celebrate it (in the fall)," says Laura Franch, the group's communications manager. It also makes clear that more than winning, the publisher loses (economically), because it can not avoid making "a special investment" that includes materials such as the facsimile of the first book that published the seal seven decades ago, a first edition of While the city sleeps, by Frank Yerby.

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