After visiting Cuba earlier this as part of the U.S. Publishing Mission, the book distributor IPG has signed a deal with Corporativo yvt, a Peruvian distributor active in the Cuban book market, to import books by three Cuban publishers into the U.S.
The deal was negotiated by Diana Calice, manager of the IPG Spanish-language book distribution program, who said the deal was made possible by the U.S. Publishing Mission’s trip to Havana in February that was sponsored by PW and Combined Book Exhibit.
“We met the distributor in Havana and we’ve continued to talk since then,” Calice said. “They were very interested in working with us and want to bring the voices of Cuban writers to the U.S.”
Asked if the new deal violates the U.S. trade embargo against Cuban, Calice said the contract is with a Peruvian distributor—not directly with a Cuban publisher. She emphasized that it is legal to ship books into and out of Cuba via third parties. In addition, she said, “we’ll make payments [for the books] to the Peruvian distributor and they can do what they want with the funds.”
Calice also said the IPG did not seek guidance or government permission before signing the contract. “We just said let’s go for it,” Calice told PW.
“My hope is to establish relationships and trust with Cuban publishers. Hopefully when the embargo is lifted they will know who we are and will continue to work with us,” Calice said. IPG CEO Joe Matthews was also quick to emphasize that “bringing Cuban writers to an American audience is a dream come true for our Spanish-language programs.”
The Cuban publishers whose books will be distributed in the U.S. are Citmatel, Ediciones Cubanas and Felix Verela. The houses offer a variety of books including titles on religion, cultural and tour guides, cookbooks, music, dance, history and children’s books.
The books will be produced for the U.S. via print-on-demand, Calice said, “so we don’t have to worry about shipping and storage.” Calice also noted that the trade embargo has led to poor paper and print production in Cuba, and the physical quality of most Cuban books is “bad. But with POD we can make the books better.”
Calice said the Cuban books will likely be ready to distribute in the U.S. in November of this year. Calice will look through their catalogs and pick the books. “I’ll be conservative in what I choose in the beginning, probably histories of the Cuban revolution and books by major Cuban authors.” Calice said IPG will sell to other vendors like B&T, Ingram and into libraries. She said there was a likely market for the titles in regions such as New York, Texas and California.
“Cuban publishers are eager to be in the U.S. market. When we were in Havana, they made sure we saw their catalogs and samples,” Calice said. “We’re optimistic and excited about the possibilities of this deal. We think [the books] will be very popular. People are hungry for information about Cuba.”