Note from Translating Cuba: Regina Coyula turns to the crowdfunding site INDIEGOGO to bring books by Cuban writers from a warehouse in Spain to the Miami Book Fair. PLEASE HELP HER. No donation is too small! (And you get a book or books! Or artwork by Rebeca Monzo! Or a handmade case for your glasses!)
14ymedio, Havana, Reinaldo Escobar, 2 September 2014 — Regina Coyula combines her work on the blog La Mala Letra (Bad Handwriting) with collaboration on various digital media. She is not determined to bring a mountain of books by Cuban authors from a warehouse in Spain to the Book Fair in Miami. Among the maelstrom of tasks involved in coordinating such an initiative from Cuba, she found a few minutes to chat with the readers of 14ymedio.
Question: Your name is associated with blogs, daily vignettes, and social criticism. We’ve learned that you’re now involved in a publishing project. Do you find it a very different scenario from independent Cuban blogs?
Answer: I’ve found myself in this project, #Desevillamiami (From Seville to Miami). This is me, I like books and editorial work, especially after coming to know the Renacimiento publishing house. Most companies in the book business turn unsold books into pulp, but Abelardo Linares, who runs this publishing house, saves them and has two warehouses full of them. In some cases he has ten or a hundred copies left, but he doesn’t destroy them. And from there the idea of this project arose, basically to retrieve the books.
Q: To those who believe the virtual world is divorced from paper literature, how do you explain that you are using these digital tools to get physical books into the hands of readers?
A: I am a reader of digital books, but for me that way of reading doesn’t provide the pleasure of having a book in my hand, not even with a tablet. I think many readers feel the same, so I’m taking advantage of these digital tools to save physical books.
Q: And what books are these?
A: In particular, books by Cuban writers living wherever they live. There are 43 authors, some of them with several titles, but it’s fewer than 100 titles altogether. There are living writers, deceased, in exile, living on the island… there is everything.
Q: Why did you choose the crowdfunding option to raise the necessary funds? And why Indiegogo?
A: Doing this project from Cuba has been a challenge for me. Indiegogo is the first platform of this type that emerged on the web. It has the advantage of working in the United States, Europe and the rest of Latin America, and a lot of cultural and technology projects have been run through it and collected a lot of money. It was recommended to me not to use Kickstarter, despite it being the largest of them all, because having “Cuba” in the project name could affect it because of the restrictions imposed by the American embargo.
Q: What will be the journey of the books” At what stage is the process?
A: The books are packaged and awaiting a response from the shipper to determine if they’re sent to Valencia or Barcelona and from there they will leave on a ship for Miami, where there are already people waiting for them, for the Book Fair that is held in November every year in that city.
Q. Why not send them to Cuba?
A. Because it would be impractical, first because of the restrictions imposed by the embargo and also because of the new Cuban customs measures which would classify them as commercial shipments, which are not allowed in our country from independent shippers.
Q: There is little time left to collect the money necessary to pay for the freight and other project needs. Do you think you will succeed?
A: I am short on time to raise the $7,000 I aspire to. I’ve only managed to raise $500 so far, but I requested an “open fund” and this means that I will get whatever is collected. In any event, we have the site. I have faith that there are people who will be sympathetic to this project. I don’t doubt I will find them among the readers of 14ymedio.