By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2
‘To Motivate Future Generations to Read’Writing for South Florida News Service (SFNS), Marianela Machado reports on a couple in Miami who have opened an independent publishing house focused exclusively on works in Spanish, despite the fact, they say, that “everyone told them they were crazy.”
In 2012, Dago Sasiga, a 34-year-old journalist, and Greity Gonzalez, 36 and with a background in art history, decided to go ahead regardless of those estimates of what they might achieve, and with just $100 they launched La Pereza Ediciones. They tell Machado now that it was the best decision they’ve made.
“We had this dream for a very long time,” Sasiga tells SFNS. “Our home became our office, warehouse, and venue for promotional events. It might seem like it’s too much but we enjoy it because we’re passionate about our job.”
Their catalog features authors from throughout the Spanish-language world, including Costa Rica’s Carlos Costas; Nicaragua’s Claribal Alegria; Mexico’s Claudia Amengual; Facundo Cabral of Argentina; Manso Geovannys of Cuba; El Salvador’s Vanessa Nunez Handal; Ruben Varona of Columbia; and Spain’s Luis Felipe Lomelí.
“Our idea,” Sasisga tells Machado, “is to keep a catalog where people can find the most established authors as well as the new ones. We usually receive the manuscripts directly from the authors, and we [hold] literature contests.”
Cuban science fiction author Jose Miguel is an author who writes under the name “Yoss.” Before contacting La Pereza Editions, he had only one book published in the United States.
“My book A Planet for Rent [Restless Books, 2015] was translated to English and sold in America, but I had the dream of being published in Spanish and in Miami,” says Sanchez. “My work reflects a lot of Cuba’s reality, and I just want it to be accessible for every Cuban no matter where they live, and I want them to read it in Spanish because I use many phrases that cannot be translated to any other language.”
Gonzalez tells SFNS that while she’d like to distribute titles in Cuba, it’s not financially feasible at the moment. La Pereza Ediciones’ titles are distributed in the US, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, and Mexico.
And although the company is now doing well, the early days, the couple says, were tough. Established authors were understandably wary about joining with a new publisher. And at the same time, it was (as always) a challenge to sell books by unknown authors.
Even so, Sasiga says his conviction that there was an audience for these books never faltered.
“I don’t understand this irrational fear,” he tells Machado, talking about friends and family that urged them not to start the business. “There are more than 50 million Spanish speakers in the US, and our market also targets Latin America.”
Among the couple’s future plans are participation with the Miami International Book Fair, as well as to continue working in Miami’s schools to help promote reading in Spanish.
“We think it’s important to motivate new generations to read,” Sasiga tells SFNS. “That’s why we have small reading circles and small fairs in some schools in the county. The main supporters for this initiative have been teachers but unfortunately, government officials do not feel the same motivation.”