Fifty Independent Latin American Publishers Create a Rights ‘Hot List’ at Frankfurt

In Feature Articles by Adam Critchley

A first-time effort in bringing Latin American independent publishers together resulted in a ‘hot list’ of new Latin American titles at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Speakers at a Frankfurt Book Fair 2017 session of a Roundtable on Independent Publishing in Latin America included, from left, Felipe Gonzalez, Laguna Libros, Colombia; Mariana Warth, Pallas, Brazil; Deborah Holtz, Trilce, Mexico; Guido Indij, La Marca, Argentina; and Doris
Akrap, taz, Germany. Image: Marife Boix-Garcia

By Adam Critchley

Plans Are To Include Spain, Brazil in the Future
Fifty independent South American publishers shipped an exhibition of their work to Frankfurter Buchmesse earlier this month, forming a “hot list” of titles from multiple genres. The goal was to catch the attention of rights buyers from many parts of the world, by collaborating in this effort led by the Alliance internationale des éditeurs indépendants.

The effort also presented a roundtable program on independent publishing in Latin America, and organized for a second year, a party on October 11 that brought together Latin American independent publishers with their counterparts from ODEI in Italy, IPG in the UK, and the Alliance of Independent Publishers in Paris.

Argentina’s Guido Indij spearheaded the Latin American Reading Island program at Frankfurt Book Fair 2017

“The idea was to put together a list of our hottest titles of the moment,” says Guido Indij, publisher of Buenos Aires-based La Marca Editora, one of the participating publishers.

“But what do we mean by ‘hot’? The most interesting of the moment,” he tells Publishing Perspectives. The idea, Indij says, wasn’t to create a Billboard-style chart or ranking, but to curate a collection by having each of the the 50 publishers contribute one title.

The participating publishers are based in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. “The idea is to grow the project next year to include Spain and, possibly in the future, Brazil,” says Indij.

The “Reading Island” where the books were showcased was part of Frankfurt’s pavilion of independent German publishers, and hosted talks and roundtable discussions.

Indij says that when the call went out to publishers to submit a title to send to Frankfurt, the response was very strong.

“The call has been very successful,” he says. “The books were from across various genres; fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s and YA, and drama and autobiography. And the idea was to create visibility for our publishers in Frankfurt.

“We don’t envisage huge sales,” he says. “But we’re looking for alternative spaces for our titles, and to sell rights in Frankfurt so that the books can be translated into other languages.”

The ‘hot list’ of 50 publishers’ selections at the Latin American Reading Island at Frankfurt Book Fair. Image: Marife Boix-Garcia

Piloting the Program
“We’re looking for alternative spaces for our titles, and to sell rights in Frankfurt so that the books can be translated into other languages.”Guido Indij

This was the first time Spanish-language publishers from Latin America had banded together into a delegation to target the world’s largest book fair, and the potential benefits were obvious.

“This kind of initiative gives us strength as a group of publishers,” Indij says, “as some of those included are collectives, and are very small. In Argentina, we’ve seen a boom in the proliferation of independent publishers in recent years, to the extent that it would now appear there are more independent publishers in the country than there are readers.”

The authors featured are mostly lesser-known or emerging, younger writers, with the exception of Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, whose La Casa de Bernarda Alba is published by Libros del Fuego in Venezuela.

Among the writers featured were Argentina’s Julieta Antonelli, whose Tierra del Fuego is published by Alto Pogo, and Buenos Aires-born Celina Abud, whose novel Alguien con quien hablar is published by Crack Up.

Also from Colombia: an anthology of 20 of the country’s writers who live in the USA, edited by Eduardo Márceles Daconte and published by Collage Editores, as a showcase of Colombian contemporary fiction, and which may serve to feed an increased interest in writers from the region by publishers and readers looking for the next Gabriel García Márquez.

More of interest:

  • Chilean children’s writer Federica Matta’s El viaje de los imaginarios en 31 dias, published by Aún Creemos en los Sueños
  • María Teresa Johansson’s YA novel Tren Tren Cai Cai, published by Recrea
  • Peru’s Jara Jiménez’s El perro Chimú, also a children’s title and published by Paracaídas

And of special interest to history and politics buffs: The text of the peace agreement to end the armed conflict in Colombia–signed in August 2016 by president Juan Manuel Santos and the rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)–is also among the titles in the selection, submitted by the Colombian government and  published by Desde Abajo.

The Latin American Reading Island at Frankfurt also hosted a roundtable on publishing in Turkey with, from left, Christoph Links from Christoph Links Verlag, Germany; Müge Sökmen of Metis Verlag, Istanbul; and moderator Doris Akrap of taz, Germany. Image: Marife Boix-Garcia

A version of this story ran in our Thursday (October 12) Publishing Perspectives Show Daily at Frankfurt Book Fair.

You can download all of our Frankfurt Show Daily magazines here.




About the Author

Adam Critchley

Adam Critchley is a Mexico-based freelance writer and translator. His articles have been published in Latin American Literature Today, Brando, Forbes, GQ, Gatopardo, Publishers Weekly, Travesías and Vinísfera, among other publications, and his short stories have appeared in The Brooklyn Review, El Puro Cuento and Storyteller-UK. His translations include a series of children's books based on indigenous Mexican folk tales. He can be contacted at