An Interview with Jorge Pinto: Books and Their Power

Aug 16, 2011 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

  1. Jorge, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your publishing company.

    Jorge Pinto

My love of books and belief in their power to educate and inspire led me to start a publishing company that envisions books as powerful and engaging learning tools. I believe that books have as much power to educate and inspire as ever. As is stated in my website, Jorge Pinto Books is a niche, a multicultural international publishing house that is developing a publishing model that invites creative professional partnerships with authors, artists, designers, editors and other specialists in distribution and niche marketing to bring their expertise to each book we publish, from concept to sales.

I have been lucky in terms of seeing my titles translated by publishers in China, Taiwan, Korea, Greece, Croatia and the Czech Republic. I have also been lucky to have experiences in several fields, including culture, diplomacy, academia and finance.

Books have always being great companions in my professional career and personal life.

  1. What do you mean by “rediscovered books”?

I learn so much from so many books that are forgotten or out of print. That is why I decided to create this series to bring back those that I consider classic texts that continue to be valuable and relevant in our modern world. In this series, I procured the rights and published the letters between Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse, outstanding German Nobel Prize writers.

Also, from the last 1950s bestsellers, I rediscovered two novels by British writer Charles Morgan as well as the great biographies of French romantic authors, Stendhal, J.J. Rousseau and Victor Hugo written in the 20’s and 30s by Mathew Josephson (1899-1978), an American writer living in Paris and Berlin where he got acquainted with nineteenth-century French literary figures, the European Dadaists and Surrealists.

3) Some companies have gone to e-books and Kindle Books. Are you also going down this route?

I was lucky to be interested in eBooks very early on when the Rocket book was launched without success at the end of the 90’s. Since then I have followed closely the trends in ePublishing technology. Kindle opens the door to make eReading easy for the general public by offering books wireless, but Apple enhance this sector to a higher stage offering a universal platform with iPad that offers all major eBook distributors including Amazon to sell ebooks.

As an early adopter, I was one of the first publishers to sell iPhone books around 4 years ago. The demand was great and with Apple iBooks as another powerful new platform, publishers and authors have more outlets to sell their books while readers enjoy more options to access a great supply of books including free classics.

ePublishing is booming, but publishers are still resisting and struggling to understand this new market that is thriving with new players. To give you an idea of it’s importance, in April, 2011, the American Association of Publishers announced that for the first time sales of eBooks surpassed all other formats in the U.S.

4) I have perused your website and found some excellent authors that are now dead – but I enjoyed reading their works in college. How do you pick and choose these authors?

I have been fortunate enough to work early on as a book reviewer for a literary magazine and later as the editor of a collection of booklets with relevant chapters of classic books which we published up to 100 titles in two years with many second and third editions. The idea was to make accessible those texts to the general public selecting one part of them. Since all of them were part of the public domain, it therefore was relatively easy to publish them. We hired a great designer that made these 30 to 50 page booklets very attractive in appearance.

5) What do you mean by “working biographies”?

For general readers, students, young professionals and career changers, the WORKING BIOGRAPHIES series delves into the working lives of respected innovators in diverse fields ranging from economics and information design to branding and communications, psychotherapy and filmmaking. Neither handbooks nor strict biographies, each book is the equivalent of an informational interview with a professional on top of their field, offering insights into the creative challenges that forged their paths.

Recently, I have published Paul Samuelson: On Being an Economist, (Samuelson is the first American that was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics); Nigel Holmes: On Information Design, (Holmes was the Graphics Director of Time Magazine from 1978 to 1994 and the award-winning author of several books on information design); Alan Siegel: On Branding and Clear Communications (Siegel is one of the best-known professionals in branding communications); Zhang Xin: On the Return to China, (Zhang is the co-founder of SOHO China, the largest developer of luxurious commercial properties in central Beijing); Irvin D. Yalom: On Psychotherapy and the Human Condition, (Yalom is one of the most widely read and influential contemporary psychiatrists) and Kim Ki-Duk: On Movies, the Visual Language, (Kim is an internationally-acclaimed South Korean filmmaker whose evocative films won him several major awards). Others will follow.

6) Now, illustrated books appeal to many readers – could you tell us about a few of your illustrated books?

I have been lucky to have been associated with many artists and developed the idea to make a collection of books that are entirely designed by their creators as a piece of artwork of their own. Naturally, there are limitations of format size and paper quality since we choose to use the print-on-demand model. These are not expensive coffee table books but are more accessible so as to show the talent of their authors. As mentioned in my website, art is a powerful communication medium which is recognized in this collection.

7) Books that have been translated appear to stand the test of time – even I still have WAR AND PEACE on my list of books to read – but in your mind, what are some of the most important books that you have, and some of the most important that you have yet to procure?

The list is long but there are some that I keep close to my desk, like Fedor Dostoyevsky’s The Possesed (The Devils), Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black , Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. From more modern writers, I like very much Sándor Marai’s Embers. I think it is best to stop otherwise the list can be too long….

8) Hermann Hesse was one of my favorite authors in college and I believe I have almost all of his books – what is singular about his work? And some of his contemporaries such as Thomas Mann?

I think what makes Hesse’ works relevant and attractive is the internal dialogues of its characters. Also, some of his novels such as Damien have very unique connections with the irrational or the “extraordinary” that only “few”, as Hesse call them, can possibly experience.

9) What are some new books by new authors that you feel need to be recognized?

I like very much Alberto Manguel’s books on books, particularly The Library at Night. I think Haruki Murakami and Ian McEwan are great storytellers to follow. Carlos Fuentes and Nobel Prize Winners Octavio Paz and Mario Vargas Llosa are also good examples, but again, the list is long and I don’t think there is space to elaborate. There are many outstanding authors yet to be discovered in the U.S.

For example, I have published great fiction pieces such as American Suite by Diana Sheets, The conversation by Spanish writer Mercedes Salisachs and Just Toss the Ashes by Argentinian writer Marta Merajver (the last two are available in English).

10) Could you provide your exact website so that serious scholars and authors can peruse your company and what you are trying to accomplish?

The website is

11)   I understand you were on television recently. Do you have a link and can you tell us about this?

12) What have I neglected to ask?

You have covered a great deal and I hope my answers help your readers to understand how a certain independent publisher works nowadays.

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