Ana Pérez Galván, tell us a bit about yourself and the background to setting up Hispabooks. Are your parents great readers?
No, my father is a voracious newspaper reader, but not a book reader. My mother does enjoy reading now and then a good novel, but not as a habit, very much the same as my two sisters. I am a forty-one-year-old woman from Madrid. I have two kids (a boy of six, Máximo, and a girl of eight, Ada). I love reading, I love music (my taste is very eclectic), I love sculling (I row in a local rowing club) and I love my partner, with whom I’ve been nearly fifteen years now, unmarried. I don’t believe in God – I’m an apostate. I believe in solidarity, equality, tolerance and love.
Did you want to work in the publishing industry from the start?
Yes, I’ve always had a passion for books and since an early age was clear about my wish to work in publishing, surrounded by books.
Has your vision from when you started Hispabooks in 2011 changed?
Not that much as before setting up Hispabooks I had already worked ten years in the publishing industry in Spain, for different indie presses, so already had a good knowledge of the way things work in publishing.
How do you balance originality and profitability publishing general-interest trade rather than educational or technical books?
We don’t balance anything. We are focused in contemporary Spanish fiction in English translation, we only publish those books we are passionate about, regardless of any other criteria but their literary value, and try to do all a can to convey that passion to distributors, the media, bookstores and readers.
Your views on writing?
Like other disciplines in the artistic world, I think it is a necessary tool to communicate views and ideas in a way that you normally wouldn’t be able to in ordinary conversation. A territory of enlightenment, understanding and community with others. In this sense, I respect any form of writing, but I’m personally only keen on purposeful writing, whatever the genre.
What makes you decide to publish one writer, and not another?
To my view, there are basically two factors in writing: form and substance, or ethics (view, intention) and aesthetics (technical skill and creativity). To me a writer must have both things and must be able to execute them with honesty. When you find these qualities in a text, they just shine through, like a bright sun, and it’s easy then making a decision.
Technology and the rise of Kindle and iPads etc have revolutionised the publishing industry. How have publishers adapted to industry changes?
In general, I believe quite unwillingly. More as an obligation than as something to engage with actively, which is not too savvy.
Do you think the physical book will die away eventually?
No, in fact, in the past year or two, figures show ebook sales have stopped thriving. However I do think printed versions of anything, (books, newspapers, whatever), will become gradually a minor, selected format. It’s something generational. There’s still a big readership that belongs to the traditional printed book paradigm, but when it’s gone, the upcoming one will feel closer to digital than print.
Your views on marketing and distribution?
They are totally necessary in the publishing chain process, but have a disproportionate role in a book’s potential success. The world of books should be about books, not about logistics or publicity. It doesn’t make sense that all the work (time and money in the end) a writer, a translator and a publisher have invested in a book are, in the end, totally dependent (as is the case now) on those two factors. I think there is not enough debate about this in publishing forums. As in politics, those who are well off and could have the power to reassess things are happy to keep the status quo because it works for them, and the rest of us, however much we want to rebel, end up complying with the market’s requirements. It’s frustrating.
How do you deal with your colleagues – are you very involved, or do you just let them get on with it?
I enjoy getting involved, but I don’t do it that much, or not proactively.
How do you relax?
Reading, rowing, cycling, playing football with my kids and spending a sunny day in the sierra of Madrid, whenever the occasion turns up.
Your favourite qualities in a man?
Intelligence with a bright smile. I love sharp guys who have an ironic feel, but who have managed to stay away from total cynicism.
Your favourite qualities in a woman?
Intelligence, wit and independence.
For what faults do have you most tolerance?
I think I’m quite tolerant, I don’t tend to see “faults”, but differences. The only thing that really upsets me is arrogance and haughtiness, they are very difficult to tackle.
Your chief characteristic?
Your chief fault?
Overdynamic, impatient at times.
Your bedside reading?
I don’t read in bed. Reading’s central to me, so I tend to read during the day, when I can better concentrate, and I don’t have a recurrent book or author, I like to move on.
Your favourite prose author?
I can’t choose one, diversity is what makes it interesting. Andrés Barba, Fernando Royuela, Eduardo Galeano, Felipe Benítez Reyes . . .
Your favourite poet?
I’ve read very little poetry, can’t say.
Your favourite heroes in fiction?
Fiction is too real to me to see any heroes in it.
Your favourite heroines in fiction?
Your heroes in real life?
Pepe Múgica (Uruguay’s ex president), and Clint Eastwood!
Your favourite heroines in real life?
Your greatest achievement?
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