From Publishers Weekly:
One of the goals of the U.S./Cuba Publishing Mission was to facilitate discussion about the cultural ties between U.S. and Cuban publishers. Although the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba has cast a long shadow–commercial trade between U.S. firms and Cuban ones remains illegal–publishers remain optimistic about generating new opportunities.
In one of two panels, Edel Morales Fuentes, v-p of international relations for the Cuban Book Institute, offered some demographic data that gives a big picture look at the country’s reading public. Women, he said, buy the majority of books in Cuba, with their purchases being for both themselves and their family. (Cuban women, Fuentes noted, account for 60% of the country’s professionals, and they tend to command salaries commensurate with men for the same job.) When it comes to e-readers, Fuentes said 70% of Cubans are accustomed to digital reading but that “we don’t have enough digital reading devices.”
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Digging deeper into the Cuban publishing scene, Zuleica Romay Guerra, president of the Book Institute of the Cuban Ministry of culture, said the longstanding trade embargo with the U.S. has made it costly to be in the book business in Cuba. That Cuban publishers are also working within a state-run model–with set budgets–only complicates things further.
Yamila Cohen Valdes, who heads a state-run agency representing Cuban writers called the Cuban Latin American Literary Agency, said she encounters various hurdles in the day-to-day aspects of doing business. “It is difficult and cumbersome to deal with author payments,” she explained. “We cannot use U.S. bank transfers. Even non-U.S. publishers use U.S banks and, because of the blockade, we cannot negotiate anything with U.S. currency.”
Guerra said Cuban publishing companies also struggle with the need to produce books at low prices. Noting that the Cuban people are poor, she said book are often sold for less than a $1.
Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly