American Publishers Return to Cuba
By Calvin Reid | Feb 13, 2017
The second U.S. Publishing Mission to Cuba, an official contingent of
American publishers and publishing professionals organized by Publishers
Weekly and Combined Book Exhibit, arrived in Cuba to mount a selection
of nearly 400 American titles at the U.S. Pavillion at the Havana Book
Fair, to be held February 10-15.
Organized in cooperation with the Book Institute of Cuba, the governing
body of the Cuban publishing industry, the U.S. Publishing Mission is an
effort to bring U.S. and Cuban publishers closer together and lay the
groundwork for future business partnerships. This year’s publishing
mission is looking to build on the relationships developed during the
first publishing mission last year, which included a written memorandum
of understanding between PW, Combined Book Exhibit and the Book
Institute of Cuba to “promote “cooperation and understanding” between
the U.S. and Cuban publishing industries.
This year’s mission totaled about 31 people, including such new members
as Ted Adams, CEO and publisher of IDW Publishing, an independent
graphic novel publisher and media producer; Judith Curr, president and
publisher S&S’s Atria Publishing Group; literary agents Amy Berkower,
chairperson of Writers House, and Kimberly Witherspoon, partner at
Inkwell Management; and Alex Correa, president of Lectorum Publications,
which publishes and distributes Spanish language books to the U.S.
Beginning today, the mission will hold a day of professional panels at a
hotel off the grounds of the Book Fair, which will feature opening
remarks by Juan Rodriquez Cabrera, president of the Book Institute of
Cuba and Cevin Bryerman, executive v-p and publisher of PW.
On Saturday, during the professional panels held on the Havana Book Fair
grounds, this reporter interviewed Ted Adams about the publishing
programs of IDW—IDW publishes hundreds of graphic novels and comics
periodicals each year in addition to producing TV shows—in front of an
enthusiastic group of young Cuban comics artists and writers who turned
out to hear him speak.
The next day, Leylha Ahuile, PW Latin American correspondent and
president of the Spanish language book marketing firm PromoLatino,
moderated (and translated remarks into English and Spanish) a panel on
book acquisition and development that featured literary agents Berkower
As in 2016, the U.S. Mission mounted a selection of books by American
publishers—nearly 400 books from such publishers as Penguin Random
House, S&S, IDW, Sourcebooks, Kent State University Press, Quarto,
Stylus Publishing and others. Unlike the other exhibitors at the book
Fair, due to the longrunning American embargo against the Castro regime,
the American publishers cannot sell their books at the fair. At the end
of the fair, the books will be donated to the Cuban Book Institute.
Held at La Cabana, a sprawling 18th century fortress (now a museum),
high on a hill overlooking port and City of Havana, the Havana Book Fair
attracts publishers from around the world. The fair offers the people of
Cuba a vast number and variety of books and attracts as many as million
people to the month long show, which will move to several other Cuban
cities after its run in Havana.
This year’s U.S. publishing mission comes as new administration takes
over in Washington D.C. and after the death of longtime Cuban leader
Fidel Castro, and future relations between U.S. and Cuban remain uncertain.
CBE president Jon Malinowski said, “although we do not know what the
future holds in light of recent events in both of our countries, we
remain committed to strengthening bonds of friendship based on our
common love of the written word.”
Source: American Publishers Return to Cuba –