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El Olivo Azul Books

Bringing classic titles to a wider audience and flying the flag for European literature. Olivo Azul is currently making a name for itself by printing works as yet unpublished in Spanish.

By:  Antonio Palacios
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Publishing house
Founded by: Eduardo Moreno, José Castillo and Francisco Rincón
Founded in: 2007
Location: Cordoba
Stands out for: publishing the work of European authors never before available in Spanish

On a trip to Dublin, the city where he grew up, Eduardo Moreno experienced a revelation. A translator for large publishing houses in Oxford, Moreno realized that many important works and authors that had never been published in Spain. “When you have lived abroad you can see beyond the literary legacy of just one country,” explains Moreno.

He presented an idea to Xul, a communications company in Cordoba: to launch a publishing house that was committed to publishing foreign works previously unavailable in Spain. The directors of Xul, José Castillo and Francisco Rincón, welcomed the idea with enthusiasm and together they founded El Olivo Azul.

Their first book was The Seven who were Hanged by Leonid Andreyev. Inspired by this novel, they decided to begin their catalogue with this Russian writer. Their objective was clear from the very beginning: to raise awareness about books and European authors whose works had never been published in Spain. They weren’t interested in setting off in search of “exotic literature”, but kept within the boundaries of Europe. “For mental health reasons we put a limit on what we could publish” explains Moreno. This approach has led them to publish works by Russian, English, French and German writers, “a collection that we will expand with time”.

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El Olivo Azul’s strategy is to “gain a good reputation among critics and bookshops. Once we have done this we can begin to publish other works by young authors and new, unpublished texts”. Having achieved their objective of introducing the European classics to a Spanish audience, El Olivo Azul is now trying to take the next step and expand their catalogue to other areas. They are aware of the risks involved and therefore Moreno has organised the catalogue in such a way that he has alternated “safe choices with riskier ones”. In this way the names of revered authors like Conrad, Schwob and Schnitzler can be found alongside less familiar names like Hildesheimer and Smeilov.

To date El Olivo Azul has published two anthologies of collected works – Narrativas and the Errantes collection, a mixed bag of “essays, books of aphorisms, travel books, diaries, memoires and autobiographies, many of which have been written by great writers and poets”. Errantes also includes works by living authors, including some from Andalusia.

The long process of choosing a manuscript, translating and finally distributing to bookstores takes around two years. The whole process is carefully overseen by the company’s publishing team which produces around twelve books a year. “This is the only way to survive in a small publishing house. We pride ourselves on quality rather than quantity”, explains Moreno. And quality is exactly what El Olivo Azul is all about.

Xul’s role involves developing new and original ways of promoting a product via the internet. Moreno believes that “promoting books is much easier via the internet than using conventional methods. We keep sending books to the big magazines, the press and critics but there are other channels like blogs or literary chat rooms that are more accessible and reach out even further”. Furthermore, Moreno explains that “new technologies are our ally and give us a massive advantage. They enable us to create high quality books with very little expenditure”.

The local publishing movement emerging in Andalusia, and more specifically in Seville, does not frighten the director of El Olivo Azul: “they are not our competition. We are far stronger together. We publish works that are very different and all of us are committed to targeting the same kind of discerning reader”.

The only thing missing is a demand great enough to allow him to broaden the selection of titles Olivo Azul has to offer. However, “there is a drive and a desire to do the opposite of what the big publishing houses are doing. This is healthy because more diversity means a more culturally rich society”. Will small publishing houses like El Olivo Azul survive in an ever more competitive market? Only time will tell.

Getting there?

Editorial El Olivo Azul
C/ Diego Serrano, 21
14005, Córdoba

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