With the advent of the digital revolution and self-publishing via Amazon Kindle and other multiple outlets, the Big Five publishing houses have been losing their share of the market that is now increasingly leaning towards e-books. However, certain publishing houses are not giving up on the print just yet.
Today I’m hosting an interview with Luis de Miranda, the founder and a CEO of Haute Culture Books. Luis is half Portuguese, half French, he lived in Paris, Stockholm, New York. From 2004 to 2012 he was the publishing director of Max Milo Editions in Paris. Luis is himself the author of 13 books, philosophical essays or novels written in French and sometimes translated in other languages.
Grigory: Luis, my first question is about your niche. Haute Culture Books seems to be a unique publishing house. If I understood correctly you release a book both in a digital format, which is free to download, and in print, as a limited edition of high-end priced books. How did you come up with this business model?
Luis: With our print books, my aim is to create unique objects that make the poetry of the text tangible. As we all spend more time in front of a screen, I believe the experiential aspect of the printed book will become more important, with readers looking for a higher quality object that comes from limited editions. Our books embody my great respect for the ritual of reading and the craftsmanship of book making.
Sales of these limited editions support the distribution of our e-books, and buyers will, in effect, become benefactors—or “Book Angels,” as we call them. This model allows individuals to become mini-Medici’s, supporting culture while enjoying a luxurious object that will increase in value year after year. I believe this model will satisfy collectors and book lovers alike.
As e-books become cheaper and cheaper rather than try to wring out diminishing profits, I’ve tried to create a model that does not depend on e-book sales and allows us to reach as many readers as possible. Free e-books are the way to go.
This is summed up in our slogan: Physical books should be sublime, digital books should be free.
Grigory: What are the selection criteria for books that you decide to publish?
Luis: I tend to choose books I’ve read and appreciated in French. It’s also important to choose authors that are important, even iconic in their homeland. Honestly, though, as a young company we’re still in the experimental phase of the brand and constantly adapting our strategies in order to come up with the best possible publishing model for our mission.
Grigory: Your new release is the English translation of the cult novel written by Yuri Mamleev in the 1960s called The Sublimes (Shatuny). How did you become interested in The Sublimes?
Luis: I read Shatuny in French a few years ago and thought it was a mind-blowing experience. I expected it to have already been translated and published in English so when I noticed it hadn’t, I immediately contacted Mamleev and his agent, who loved the idea. The Sublimes is the kind of novel that deserves a Nobel Prize, except that it might be too disturbing for the Swedish Academy.
Grigory: What themes explored in The Sublimes make this book interesting for the contemporary reader?
Luis: It’s the narration of different quests for the absolute. It expresses the desperate need, in a materialistic and standardized world, to touch the divine, the spiritual, the mysterious. In a way, capitalism today is like Sovietism in the Sixties, when the book was written: it’s a consciousness dictatorship, a reduced form of reality that imposes its spiritual imperialism on our souls.
Grigory: Are you planning to publish more gems of the world literature and, if yes, what authors are on your mind?
Luis: We are. I have different books in mind that have never been translated into English, but first we have to find an investor to continue and produce our first three books to deliver them to the shops.
Grigory: What is the long-term mission of your publishing house?
Luis: Helping a more intelligent and generous civilization paradigm to emerge. Each of our books is a virtuous virus placed in the middle of the matrix, and from both the beauty of the text and the object itself waves of freedom will emanate. The free diffusion of the e-books will accelerate the access of the global psyche to richer and less standardized view of the world. We’re also creating an art collection of singular book-objects that actualize the spirit of the book in a shape that captures our sense of wonder, creating a better atmosphere in which to discover those texts.
Thank you very much for this insightful interview and I wish all the best for Haute Culture Books.
Luis will be launching Yuri Mamleev’s The Sublimes next week at the London Book Fair (Thursday 10th of April, 15:00 – 15:30): Stand Y 455, Y 425, Y 405, EC2.