Plans for 2018

In 2016 we wrote some ‘Plans for 2016’ of which we fulfilled only a minuscule fraction. In 2017 we did not make any plans; we had no time to think about them, since we were too busy throwing the 2016 plans out the window. In 2018 we could just relax and recycle the plans that have remained practically untouched, but due to courtesy to our readers, a guilty conscience, desperation, or whatever the reason, we are going to make the effort to refresh the positive resolutions for the forthcoming year, with a greater effort to attempt to fulfill them. Also, writing down things gives the impression that one is closer to their goal.

These plans for 2018 that we now reveal are composed by five amendments to be announced from the top of a mountain, and a sixth one to be sung along music by Joan Baptista Humet. That is to say:

1: You will reprint out-of-stock titles.
2. You will gather with readers more often.
3. You will, once and for all, open the online store these new times seem to demand.
4. You will organise workshops so that children can play at making their own books.
5. You will celebrate, with joy and cheer, the 20th anniversary of the publishing house.
and 6. You will reflect on what books we would like to make in the future, and if it is true we even have to make books at all.


A few years ago, we decided to stop publishing new books (even though we only publish three books a year) to focus on reprinting titles which have been running low on stock. A book costs the same when printed for the first time as it does ten years later, and yet, the sales expectations of a work that is not considered a novelty are significantly lower. We are perfectly aware that it is just as important to take care of old titles as it is of new ones: it is the commitment we made to their authors, and, evidently, to the readers, whose quantity must increase and not decrease. Funds must be set aside for this task; funds which, in the case of a small publishing house such as ours, constitute most of the capital available.

In 2017 we have reissued Painting and Construction Workshop, book by César Fernández Arias, which was a novelty twelve years ago, and Carrot Hair, by Jules Renard and Gabriela Rubio, one of the three books with which Media Vaca inaugurated its catalogue twenty years ago. The work involved in republishing these books goes beyond a simple reprint: the image files for Painting and Construction Workshop have been reviewed in order to improve the reproduction quality, and the new edition of Carrot Hair has gone from having 208 pages to 240, since it now includes ten additional illustrations. We will also have to reprint some books that have been selling gradually and which are currently unavailable. Perhaps it will not be necessary to focus on the task with such extraordinary care; in most cases, correcting spelling mistakes and deleting bothersome errors will suffice, as well as ensuring the new edition does not detract from the previous one.


We continue to have a pending visit to quite a few bookshops that support us and display our catalogue, and which usually place orders on a regular basis. The plan, as we stated in 2016, was to meet up with readers to converse about everything and nothing, so they could see who was behind the publisher and spend some time together. This has not been possible until now because, as it is known (and if not, I will say it now), after a few experiences with commercial distributors with less than satisfactory results, to say the least, we have ended up becoming the managers of our own catalogue. Without a doubt, the shipment of books to bookshops and individual customers is the activity to which we dedicate the most number of hours a day. It is difficult to leave the house due to all the tasks that irrevocably get put on hold. When we have to travel, even if only for a short period of time, we have to go to great lengths to attend to all the obligatory tasks, and we try not to leave a message unanswered, a package unshipped, or an invoice unsent. On our return, we always have a few urgent calls to make. As it is known (and if not, I will say it now), the publishing house has always consisted of only two people with a limited number of hands.


In order to make plan no. 2 a reality, it is necessary for plan no. 3 to work. This plan is about launching an online store dedicated to the sale of books to facilitate the management of orders. Particularly, to resolve the many obstacles we currently face while selling books in an international market, since most orders are now placed through mobile phones. We intend that this online store, which we have worked on everyday since 2017, with the advice from friends and experts, can be effective and provide us with a greater freedom of movement. Let’s hope so. It is not easy for those of us who make books in an almost artisan way to perfectly comprehend the inner-workings and demands of this mechanism.


We have also dedicated some hours and minutes in 2017 to think about workshops in which participants can enjoy creating books. The aim is that children (as well as grown-ups, why not?) take ownership of this extraordinary tool and make something vivid and useful of it. With that being said, though we have fantasised about these workshops, we have not been able to put them into practice. We are moderately optimistic, but sometimes we cannot help feeling anxious when we realise that the future participants of these workshops are growing up while we are still sharpening ideas and pencils, and that in the near future the word pencil and the word book may not hold the same meaning for neither of us.


Plan no. 5 is a wish for happiness. And of survival. If we manage to make it come true, it will mean that we have survived 2018, as the last month of the year celebrates the anniversary of the publishing house. It was in December 1998, in the midst of the Christmas season, when the first three Media Vaca books appeared. (It is obvious we did not have a plan for 1998, although it would have been helpful). It would be very pleasant if this celebration could also serve as an excuse to talk about literature and illustration, and to reunite with old friends and greet new ones. Within this plan, there are various sub-plans to organise exhibitions, create a small publication, and celebrate with a party or something similar. This will all be discussed when the time comes.

There are no plans in 2018 to open a Facebook or Twitter account, but we will continue to feed our Instagram page, functioning since 2017, and which occupies a fair amount of our time but has not forced us to radically change our habits. Our Instagram page should serve, primarily, to showcase some of the things we do and provide clues to those who are interested in our books. Not only to those who are interested in them as readers, but also to those who wish to become authors; so they have sufficient information when the time arrives to consider who they want to share their projects with. We might not achieve it, but it is worth trying. As every year, in 2018 we will also attempt to keep up to date with the illustrators, writers, and readers that send us their proposals, suggestions, and comments. It is a complicated goal, for all the reasons explained above, but not impossible. From here, we apologise to all those to whom we have not been able to reply diligently, as it should be expected of us.


Plan no. 6, as we announced, will contain music by Joan Baptista Humet. It also includes lyrics by Humet. In fact, we have a specific Humet song in mind. The one that says: “We must live, my friend, before anything, we must live, and it’s already getting cold”. What a great man, we miss him. Hay que vivir.

In the picture, the publishers of Media Vaca amidst a plan. Photograph by Carlos A. Schwartz.