An Extraordinary Enterprise

Edicola Ediciones is an Italian-Chilean independent publishing founded by an Italian couple in love with Chile and with books

  • An Extraordinary Enterprise

A historic newsstand in Ortona, Italy, a dream shared by a father and a son, and a sudden infatuation for Chile. These are the main elements of a unique story, that of a small independent publishing house named Edicola Ediciones (edicola is Italian for newsstand) established in 2013 between Italy and Chile, building a virtual bridge made of books between two not-so-distant worlds, albeit divided by two different languages, an Ocean and a continent.
A story that sounds like a novel itself, and whose main characters are Paolo Primavera and Alice Rifelli, a couple of young and brave publishers, partners in work and in life. Paolo and Alice currently live and work between Ortona, the publishing house’s Italian headquarters, Ferrara, Alice’s hometown, and Santiago de Chile.
We spoke to them to learn more about this extraordinary enterprise.
Why Chile?
Paolo: Back when I was working as a photographer, I traveled all across Chile. That experience soon became a book and filled me with the desire to return - which I did by starting a couple of collaborations with local newspapers and teaching at a university for four years. Meanwhile, I also enrolled in a Master’s degree in Publishing. Then one day I got a call: my father was dying. I left everything and went back home.
My father had been running a newsstand that has belonged to my family for over a century. One day, when we were sitting in the kiosk, we had spoken of how there was a lot of unnecessary publications among all that we sold, and that we should have opened our own publishing house specializing in our respective passions - photography and handmade wooden furniture.
The idea had been stuck in my head ever since. So when my dad died, I returned to Chile to finish the Master and founded Edicola, our publishing house, building a bridge between Chilean and Italian culture through translation and proposing Spanish titles in Italy and vice versa.
How is the Chilean independent publishing scene?
Alice: The country is currently experiencing a cultural fervor similar to that blossoming during the Allende government. Although the Chilean democracy is still very fragile, thirty years after the end of the dictatorship people have gone back to experimenting, questioning and gathering. The Government massively invests in culture and the results are under our eyes.
Paolo: In Chile there is much more collaboration among publishers than in Italy. Four years ago, we founded a publishers’ cooperative, La Furia. We started out in seven, and today we are more than forty. In the meantime, collaborating with other organizations, we have developed and launched a Chilean book internationalization program, and participated in the drafting of the new book's law.
How do you choose your authors?
Alice: There are several ways to choose a book. The most obvious one is to fall in love with it as a reader. But we also feel a strong urge to follow the voice of our authors through different books and to make their new projects come true. And sometimes it’s all about building a puzzle where every book is a piece that you hope will fit in the right place at the right time.
While "still believing in paper", Edicola also publishes e-books.
Paolo and Alice: Ever since the beginning, we opted for publishing both the paper and the digital format. We believe in both. We are not interested in the useless diatribe over which of the two supports is never better. Books are products too, and if going out at night and writing them on the walls is what it takes to sell them (and let people read them), we are ready to do it. E-books are simply another style of publishing, with its obvious advantages both the reader and the publisher.
As for our paper books, we have tried to make them as "portable" as possible: most of the have approximately the same size as an e-reader.
How do Chileans see the Italian culture and authors?
Paolo: They are very interested in our art, culture, and literature. Our history has earned us a lot of respect, even if the usual clichés are still a thing. In the field of literature, all the great authors like Calvino, Pavese, Pasolini and Natalia Ginzburg are quite well-known. At Edicola, we have done and will continue to do our part by translating contemporary Italian authors. We recently published our first classic: The Night by poet Dino Campana, translated by Antonio Nazzaro.
What made you fall in love with Chile?
Alice: In the beginning I had a bit some trouble with avocados and earthquakes. Over the last three years, I got used to both. I learned how to eat avocados like a local: perfectly ripe, with only a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt on toast, or in a salad. Earthquakes are obviously no joke, but Chilean buildings are safe and designed to withstand a continually shaking ground. And it is precisely this overpowering and yet generous nature that made me fall in love with Chile.

Author : The Slowear Journal

related articles | Arts & Culture |