Che's books fetch $1.5 million

Campaign News | Friday, 4 March 2005

Ocean Press sell right to Italian firm and will donate books to Cuba

The translation rights for a package of 19 books by Ernesto Che Guevara has been sold by the Australian publisher Ocean Press to the giant Italian book-publishing company Mondadori for US$1.5 million.

It is the first time that the exclusive rights to the works of Che Guevara have been sold as a package in a single country.

This agreement follows the international success of the movie, based on Che Guevara’s “Motorcycle Diaries,” which Ocean Press published in English and Spanish and sold translation rights in more than 30 countries.

According to Ocean Press president David Deutschmann, the Mondadori deal “is the product of a unique editorial collaboration over several years between Ocean Press and the Che Guevara Studies Center.” The Havana-based Center is headed by Aleida March, Che’s widow, and holds all rights to the works and estate of Che Guevara.

David Deutschmann announced the Italian rights deal while seated alongside Aleida Guevara, Che Guevara?s eldest daughter, at the Havana Book Fair in Cuba on February 12, at a panel on the publishing project of Ocean Press and the Che Guevara Studies Center.

The relationship between Ocean Press and the Center reflects a demonstrated commitment on the part of the independent publisher to make Che Guevara’s ideas and example known to as broad an audience as possible.

In recent years, Che has reemerged from behind the image on the poster or T-shirt to be recognized as a profound and original thinker with a radical worldview, as someone who speaks to a new generation seeking a better world. Ocean Press is organizing an Australian speaking tour of Che Guevara’s daughter Aleida in May this year.

In announcing the Mondadori rights deal, the Che Guevara Studies Center and Ocean Press said they will donate 10,000 copies of the Spanish-language edition of Che’s “Self-Portrait,” a beautifully presented photographic and literary memoir, to schools and libraries in Cuba. The donation of the 10,000 copies has a value of US$300,000.

The 19 books to be published by Mondadori in Italy are all by Che Guevara himself and include such classics as “The Bolivian Diary” and “Guerrilla Warfare,” as well as two previously unpublished books by Guevara on political economy and Marxist philosophy. The package also includes thematic anthologies of Che Guevara's writings on Latin America and the Cuban Revolution - both of which are exhaustive, recent compilations prepared by the Che Guevara Studies Center and which include a substantial amount of previously unpublished material.

This agreement with Mondadori will mean that Che Guevara will be published in Italy alongside Michael Moore, Subcomandante Marcos, Eduardo Galeano, Rigoberta Menchu and Gabriel García Márquez. Despite the fact that Che Guevara is more popular in Italy than almost anywhere else, the systematic publication of his writings has never been undertaken there before. “Based on our success in Italy,” said Mr. Deutschmann, “we hope to be able to reach similar agreements in other countries and regions with publishers willing to take on this major publishing project.”

In the same week as signing the Mondadori agreement, Ocean Press granted an Indian publisher the right to publish several of its titles free of charge in the Marathi language, spoken primarily in Maharashtra state.

Ocean Press was founded in 1989 and has offices in Melbourne, New York and Havana.

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