Why we are not participating in Madrid Book Fair

This year we thought it would be a good idea to participate in the Madrid Book Fair and, as we wanted to do so with our own stand, we wrote the following letter to the organisers:

Valencia, 23 March 2016.

Dear Sirs and Madams, I am writing to enquire about a matter regarding Madrid Book Fair.

This year we have decided to put on pause producing books to devote ourselves to promoting and selling the editorial catalogue, and to think about new projects. Taking advantage of the fact that we have recently been awarded the First Prize for Non Fiction at the Bologna Fair (for the Books for Tomorrow collection), we thought that we would like to rent a stand at the Madrid Book Fair to bring together the authors of the awarded books and hold a presentation during these dates. Our wish is also to invite other authors and showcase a catalogue of books that very few people have seen in full.

We have participated in the Fair only once before, many years ago, sharing a stand with another publishing house from Zaragoza, Libros del Innombrable, with whom we have an author in common, a good friend of both parties. Although the experience was pleasant, on this occasion we would like to have our own space, exclusively, to be able to use the name ‘Media Vaca’. In other years our books have been on sale in some bookshops that offer our catalogue, and in others to which we have exceptionally facilitated deposits, but we are saddened that in Bologna, Frankfurt, and Guadalajara we can be ‘Media Vaca’, but in Madrid we have to appear alongside a bookshop without being able to use our name.

We are aware of the Fair’s regulations and we know that to rent a stand a publisher must have a catalogue with a minimum number of active references. This year that number is 141 titles. We do not meet this requirement, and I am afraid we never will. Although we have been publishers for eighteen years, we publish only three titles per year; until 2045 we could not have the right to be exhibitors. (By then we would both be 82 years old and I am not sure we will have the strength to move so many boxes.) Does that mean we will never be able to participate in the Fair under our own name?

We have read in the regulations that it would be possible to participate by invitation, as stated in Chapter III, article 5.5. I would like to enquire about this possibility. What does it refer to exactly? We do not expect preferential treatment, far from it, and we understand that in the chance we are invited to participate it would be under the same economic conditions as any other exhibitor. We are simply asking the Fair to take the singularity of our project into account and to offer us the possibility of giving it visibility. We would be grateful if you could study our request kindly, as we are sure the proposal would be beneficial for both parties.

Thanking you for your attention, we look forward to hearing from you.


Vicente Ferrer

Media Vaca

The response arrived a few days later in the form of a telephone call: there was no other option but to seek other partners, one or two, and all our names would be featured on the stand; but since the application deadline had passed, it would not be possible to participate this year. It would have to be in 2017.

In the photograph, Manuel Azaña at the Madrid Book Fair, June 1936. [Source: Azaña. Memoria Gráfica, 1880-1940 (Graphic Memoir), edition by José María Marco and Vicente Alberto Serrano, Colegio del Rey Foundation, Alcalá de Henares, 1990.]