Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making a Book in Guatemala

Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny (New York, WW Norton, 1988) will be published in Guatemala in June 2010. The process is far from over: in January and February, the designer, Lucía Menéndez de la Riva, will be reviewing the photos with photographer Daniel Chauche and Andrés Asturias of Estudio A2, and laying out the book. Pamela Escobar, the copy editor, is making corrections and ensuring grammatical and substantive consistency throughout the text. In March I will be in Guatemala again, and we will be proofing the Sherpas (the photos pages and text) and taking the book to the printer -- Print Studio -- before Easter.

We hope the final product will turn out well for two reasons.

First, out aim is to create both a memory and a memorial to Guatemala's civil war. The book, though far from perfect, covers a good deal of ground from those years, namely 1980 through 1989. That period is represented by over 150 color photographs; fifty new photos have been added, some of which replace others in the old edition which either no longer seem relevant or simply were not strong photos in the first place. In addition, the text, which includes synopses of the various governments during that time as well as first-person testimonies, has remained unchanged, with the exception of new introductions by Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Institute, and Juan Luis Font, managing editor of elPeriódico.

The second purpose of this book, and one that developed in great part thanks to Daniel Chauche, was the notion that it could become a model for future color photo books published in Guatemala. With the exception of the photo scan -- National Geographic Imaging in Washington DC digitized 30-year-old Kodachrome transparencies --every other technical portion of the book's execution has been carried out in Guatemala. This includes the English to Spanish translation, copy editing, photo
editing, layout and design, PhotoShop enhancement and, last but not least, the printing.

In a future post, I will summarize how the book was put together.

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