LIBROS MUTANTES: Independent publishing invades La Casa Encendida

By Libros Mutantes | Teresa de Andrés. April 23, 2013

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‘Mutant’: “Something that mutates”, “an organism resulting from a mutation”, “descendants of a mutant organism”. Three official and one unofficial definition - the independent publishing fair Libros Mutantes, the fruit of an almost secret order that gathers together in La Casa Encendida every year. Forty publishing projects from across the world speak face-to-face and reflect on the evolution of this independent sector, which the public is showing an increasing interest in. Talks, conferences, specialised workshops and, above all, the possibility and the luxury of talking with publishers and buying exclusive zines, different experimental publications and meticulously crafted artists’ books.



Why "Libros Mutantes"?

Libros Mutantes (La Noche de los Libros Mutantes) arose as an alternative to the institutional "World Book Night". There were a lot of us publishing our own work or the work of others, and the need to make the independent circuit more visible and to facilitate distribution for publishers became increasingly evident. We had to get to know each other as a group, be able to talk about how and where to print our publications, how we sold them – or tried to sell them – and how we stored them in the hallways of our homes. We quickly learned that it was much more interesting to be able to buy a zine directly from its author than buy it from a shop or over the internet.

The initiative came about for the first time in April 2010. It’s now April 2013 and all things green still seem to be following you. What mutations, genetic changes and amputations have you undergone in the last three years?


The two first editions of the fair took place at different points of the city, commercial premises, studios and galleries, creating a route through different neighbourhoods. In 2012 we focused all our activities on the patio of La Casa Encendida. We added conferences, concerts, and following the example set by her European fairs, opened our field of activity up to an international audience. As a result, we’ve received a lot of proposals this year from international participants interested in taking part in our fair. That’s something that makes us really happy. Throughout all that time, fantastic people have worked on and supported the project and, although it is true that we all underwent some malformation after so much work, the majority of the mutations we’ve experienced have been benign.

What is the scenario like for self-publishing now in comparison to when Libros Mutantes first started out?

Just by taking a look at the Libros Mutantes participants since 2010, it’s clear that the situation has changed quite a lot in terms of the national panorama. A lot of publications are no longer being published; many others still allow themselves the luxury of continuing to publish - with greater or lower frequency - and a lot of new and very good quality projects have been cropping up. Aside from the increased quality, another point worth highlighting is that a lot of publishers have realised that selling your own publications is a very selfless hobby, and that’s why self-publishing is being carried over to - or associated with - other fields so that you can grow by dedicating yourself to what you like. For example, therefore, what was once a small zine publishing house is now a studio that publishes books (yes, the ones with a hardback cover) on photography or a clothing brand, and they have managed to achieve a personal style that is recognised internationally. I’m referring specifically to the way JSBJ has become Études Studio, who will be at the fair this year with Études Books. However, there are a lot of publishing projects that are growing in various directions.


What are the more educational activities you have planned for this year?

At Libros Mutantes we feel that educational activities are very important and we’ve been including them in our programme since 2011. These activities aim to do everything from professionalising self-publishing to raising awareness of it amongst those who don’t know anything about it, and they’re available to people of all ages. This year, we have a workshop with Iván del Rey de la Torre, a teacher from the school BlankPaper in which students will create a collective piece comprising one publication and one audiovisual piece. What’s more, to show that once again self-publishing can be applied to any field, the designer Senyor Pablo will give some classes about how to make knitting designs. And of course, on Sunday 28 we’ll see the return of Fanzine para llevar (“Zine to go”), the already classic circuit where anyone can make their own zine in five simple steps. This year it will count on the help of artists such as Andrés Gallardo or Elena Gallén. The youngest – and the oldest who don’t want to grow up – will be able to go over the lines while they colour in and flick through many of the best publications for children from all over the world in our Kids Corner throughout the whole weekend.

What are the big hits of this 2013 edition?


We don’t like to blow our own trumpet but we’ve managed to put together a programme we still can’t quite believe yet. We have some very special invited guests, people we’ve admired for a long time now and who we are very proud to have participating. This is where we have to express our gratitude for the support from Acción Cultural Española and thank all of the embassies that are backing us and that have made it possible for invited guests to participate from all across Europe and the United States. Opinions on each event will depend on people’s tastes but I don’t want to miss a thing this year, from the Mutant Perspectives season to the concerts, and the Matinee Performances. You can view the full programme.

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