Organized by Cuba Literaria, Cuba's digital publishing house, the collection boasted 1,500 titles available online for the duration of the fair. Visitors to the fair were able to download as many books as they liked to their jump drives or portable devices. The collection covers a broad range of disciplines including fiction, children's books, science, arts, the social sciences, essays and journals as well as visual and audio projects. The works are classics from the public domain and original titles from contemporary authors who have made their work available for free. Some of the ebooks are also made available for sale through ruthtienda.com, a Cuban and Belgian company that serves as a partner to Cuba Literaria.
"Cuba's participation in the world of new technologies is very recent, especially for writers," says Paola Rigal Collado, Director of Cuba Literaria. "[ebooks] are a way for writers to promote their work." The partnership with ruthtienda.com also gives Cuban writers a rare chance to promote their books in foreign markets. Thus far, Cuba Literaria has published 22 ebooks. Other Cuban publishing houses, including Letras Cubanas, have also begun to release digital titles. According to Collado, Cuban publishers are increasingly embracing ebooks because they cost less to produce and have a lower impact on the environment.
The response from the Cuban public has been strong. "The general public is always happy with free access [to books]," says Collado. "People here are always willing to read."
While private internet access is not common in Cuba, electronic books have long been popular. Cubans are able to access ebooks through the many computing clubs across the island.
Cuba Literaria also operates the website cubaliteraria.cu, a portal for Cuban Literature. Its goal is to promote the collective work of the island's authors and to report on the most important happenings in the literary word at the national and international level.
Cuba Literaria plans to expand into the production of multimedia products, animation, audiobooks and educational video games – all subsidized by the state. The agency is also interested in bilingual books and products to meet the growing interest in English language content.
For more information on Cuba Literaria, visit cubaliteraria.cu .