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Activist author made director of Mexico’s largest state-owned publishing house

Author and activist Pablo Ignacio Taibo II has been made director of Mexico’s largest state-owned publishing house, Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE), reports Publishers Weekly.

Mexico’s new president Andrés Manuel López Obrado—the country’s first leftwing president in 70 years—asked the writer in October to take the position of director of FCE, soon after Obrado was elected. Taibo began the position on 1 December, but is viewed as a controversial choice. Some see him as a radical or anarchist, while others think he will ultimately do a good job.

Taibo is the author of more than 40 books and is best known overseas as a mystery novelist; many of his books have been translated into English. At FCE, Taibo plans to introduce bargain-priced editions of some of FCE’s classics in an effort to broaden the publishing house’s readership.

Joaquín Díez-Canedo Flores, director general of Mexico’s largest university press, Cultura UNAM, and a former director of FCE, believes Taibo’s plan might work. ‘It is part of the mission of the publishing house to sustain and promote the literary patrimony of Mexico, so this might be a way to do it … the questions remains whether or not the people who can’t afford to buy full priced books will still want to read these classics in cheaper editions, or even if they can read. Illiteracy remains the biggest challenge of all to the Mexican publishing industry’.

Taibo has also faced criticism following some strongly worded comments made about FCE employees, referring to them as ‘mere bureaucrats and dead weight’.

President Obrado told Mexican newspaper Milenio: ‘He is one of the main promoters of reading in Mexico, he is a promoter of the books and has helped a lot … since he is a man of convictions he offered an apology [for the statements made] and I think he deserves to be the owner of the Economic Culture.’

FCE has a backlist of over 10,000 titles, including many classics relating to Mexican intellectual patrimony. The publisher owns Mexico’s third-largest bookstore chain with 27 bookstores across the country, and also has 10 foreign subsidiaries, including ones in the US and Spain.


Category: International news