Monday, August 30, 2010

David Pogue & the Mystery of The EBook Wars

We've been talking e-books for years and now we're performing contortionist tricks to put our books into all the various sorts of platforms (formats). The Kindle. Sony. Nook. This. That. The Other. For novels and books of non-fiction (without graphs and illustrations), it's not hard. We generate a PDF file and email it off to CONSTELLATION. (Constellation is an element of the Perseus Sales and Distribution network. PSD owns Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, our trade distributor. It's complicated. It didn't start out this way.) Anyway, Constellation formats the file into the various platforms for the different readers, downloads them to the various sites, and, ZAP, we're good to go. But, as you know, we also do illustrated books and bilingual books. Not so easy. We have some clients who do the illustrated books quite well, and in a later blog we'll list them. But Joe Hayes bilingual collections of stories--not so easy.Take for instance, Joe's best selling collection of stories in a bilingual format: The Day It Snowed Tortillas / El día que nevó tortillas. Hopefully, you know the book. It's formatted on the page so that the English and Spanish texts are close at hand--opposite pages, following--which doesn't work on an e-book reader. Well, it doesn't work gracefully. So the folks at Constellation and the various e-book companies are unsure how they want to receive this. We've about decided to cut and paste the complete Spanish test of a story after the complete English text of the story. But what do we do with a book like Joe's Bluebonnet Winner, Ghost Sickness / Mal de la Fantasma? It's a novella, so right now we're thinking about placing the complete Spanish text of the book after the complete English text. But either way, it won't be as user friendly as our books.

We certainly would like our readers input about e-books. Do you own one? Do you want one? We don't even have one ourselves yet. We're thinking about buying an IPAD. But our friend Ben Saenz bought an IPAD. He'd had it for about a month and still hadn't downloaded a book yet. Ha! He's busy watching movies and listening to songs and playing. And the selection of books for IPAD is not nearly as big as Kindle. The reason is Apple is still negotiating contracts with publishers. Right now Constellation/PSD is in negotiations, so no CPP books are available yet on IPAD. So now I don't know what we're going to buy.

I wanted David Pogue to help me. His video is fun. But we still don't know what to buy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Ben Sáenz' Last Night I Sang to the Monster  was a finalist for the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Congratulations to Ben!  The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman and David Roberts was the winner. The awards committee went with frivolity for this year instead of a serious and engrossing look into issues facing teens. Oh well. That's how the publishing ball bounces. It's a big national award, and there are only four finalists. Even though the list won't be posted until next week, PEN has given us clearance to start bragging.We love Ben's Monster book, and we think that it--like his other CPP YA novel Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood--it will be a book that high school teachers will be using for a long time to come. Like Sammy, Monster is a book that doesn't dodge issues but Ben's prose makes a real good read for all of us, teenagers included, who want to understand better teenage alcoholism and dysfunctional families. Zach is a character that all will like and sympathize with and remember for a long time to come.

Cinco Puntos, of course, is proud to be publishing Ben's work. He's a great guy to work with. He comes by the office--we talk books and business and poetry, Lee and he doing a little editing, then we all talk some chisme, we laugh, we have a cup of coffee. And sometimes we take the walk across the bridge to Mexico. El Paso is such a cool place.

And by the way, his much praised and award-winning children's book THE PERFECT SEASON FOR DREAMING /  UN TIEMPO PERFECTO PARA SOÑAR is now out in paperback. Tijuana artist Esau Andrade did the magical illustrations. Take, for instance, the park scene in the exact middle of the book--a full two-page spread, like Suerat discovering the truth about Mexico, forgetting all about pointillism and deciding instead to take a bus to Guadalajara:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Skipping Stones Awards Honor Two Cinco Puntos Press Books

Skipping Stones Multicultural Magazine recognized two Cinco Puntos Press books--Dance, Nana, Dance / Baila, Nana, Baila by Joe Hayes and  Pitch Black: Don't Be Skerd by Youme Landowne--for their 2009 Skipping Stones Honor Awards. From their announcement:

Each year we recognize outstanding books and teaching resources with our Annual Skipping Stones Honor Awards. The honored books promote an understanding of cultures, cultivate cooperation and encourage a deeper understanding of the world’s diversity, ecological richness, respect for multiple viewpoints and close relationships within human societies. Bound to provide a great reading adventure, our selection offers a variety of learning experiences for readers of all ages. The winners are presented in three categories—Nature Books, Multicultural Books and Teaching Resources. 

We're very proud of this recognition. Skipping Stones is an important magazine. They promote multiculturalism and good ecology. Their ideas about education and teaching are about compassion and understanding. If you're a parent, teacher or librarian, please look at Skipping Stones and then get a subscription. It's a good resource. Cinco Puntos, by the way, is the only publishing company to receive two honor awards of only 14 given for 2009 in their multicultural category.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Amor por la Frontera

Poster by Benjamin AlireSaénz
Note: I'm a month late. Oh well.

July 17th I attended a Solidarity Procession supporting immigrant rights and immigration reform. Organized by Annunciation House (a shelter and immigrant rights non-profit) here in El Paso, the march was in response to the never-ending violence along the border, this place where we live--in particular, a Border Patrol agent’s recent shooting of a young Mexican man who was on the Mexico side of the river. The young man died. The shooting took place near the El Paso / Avenida Juárez Bridge and was witnessed by people walking back to Mexico. Cinco Puntos author, and El Paso resident, Benjamin Alire Saénz helped organize the march.
--Bobby Byrd


A defining characteristic of the United States is that of a nation of immigrants. The thread and fabric of this nation is a tapestry of nationalities that in many ways is greater than the sum of its parts. Integral to this tapestry is the Hispanic immigrant and especially the Mexican immigrant, who has been coming to the US for generations. Hispanic immigrants, documented and undocumented have helped build the nation. They have harvested our crops, washed our dishes, helped raise our children, cared for our elderly, fought in our wars, built our railroads, sidewalks, rock walls and homes, prepared our food, helped form our church communities, and made us stronger as a nation.

But in the recent past, and especially since 9-11, the nation has seen a growing movement against the Hispanic/Mexican immigrant that seeks to criminalize and dehumanize him or her. To this end, vast amounts of tax dollars are being used to conduct raids on businesses and homes, tear apart mixed documented families, imprison tens of thousands for lack of documents, build fences on the border, and implement enforcement-only policies to resolve the immigration crisis.

 For the US/Mexico border, this has meant increased fire-power with calls for even more border agents, the deployment of the National Guard, drones, detention facilities, and the general militarization of border communities. The policy of enforcement and more enforcement in an environment in which the immigrant is vilified and demonized is turning neighbors into enemies. The fruit of enforcement-only policies is violence, the kind of violence that was seen on June 7th with the shooting death of a teenager on the banks of the Rio Grande, and on May 25th with the death of a 35 year old man in San Ysidro, and on July of 2009 with the shooting death of a Border Patrol agent in Campo California. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Joe Hayes and Tim Tingle @ TEACHINGBOOKS.NET

TEACHINGBOOKS.NET is one of the most interesting and enterprising online educational programs that Cinco Puntos has collaborated with in the promotion of literacy. Knowing that school districts have stringent rules regarding internet usage for teachers and students, reviews materials for educational appropriateness. They serve as a gatekeeper of sorts, doing a job that schools and teachers simply don’t have the time or resources to do. Students and teachers can listen to podcasts, watch video and even hear the authors pronounce their names. Teachers can research materials and books and get ideas about teaching reading and writing. And administrators can then feel safe when their teachers and students visit

We’re delighted that TEACHINGBOOKS.NET has featured Cinco Puntos Press authors Joe Hayes and Tim Tingle. Do yourself a favor and take a free ride at and listen to these two master storytellers--

Hear Joe Hayes introduce and read an excerpt from Dance, Nana, Dance / Baila, Nana, Baila
Hear Joe Hayes introduce and read an excerpt from Tell Me a Cuento / Cuentame un story
Hear Joe Hayes share the story and pronunciation of his name

Hear Tim Tingle introduce and read an excerpt from Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness Into Light
Hear Tim Tingle introduce and read an excerpt from Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom
Hear Tim Tingle share the story and pronunciation of his name

Here's what says about itself: an easy-to-use website that adds a multimedia dimension to the reading experiences of children's and young adult books. Our online database is developed and maintained to include thousands of resources about fiction and nonfiction books used in the K–12  environment, with every resource selected to encourage the integration of multimedia author and book materials into reading and library activities.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

SOMOS TODOS JUAREZ: Peace for La Ciudad Juárez.

Poster by Antonio Castro H. Antonio grew up in Juárez and now lives in El Paso. He certainly feels a deep sorrow for his city as witnessed by the poster. His father, the artist Antonio Castro L., still lives in the home in Juárez where he grew up, but his son wants him to move across to this side. Antonio H, besides being a professor of Graphic Design at UTEP and is the principle designer for his own graphics art firm, has designed many of our prize-winning Cinco Puntos Press titles, and on a number of occasions he’s collaborated with his father Antonio L who is one of our most important illustrators. They are good men, good artists, good friends and good role models for young artists growing up on either side of the border. They are at home on the border and they feel a terrible sadness for this on-going tragedy.

We all wish peace for the City of Juárez.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Terry Poppa, author of Drug Lord, on NPR

Terry Poppa, author of Drug Lord (CPP 978-1-933693-85-9, October, 2010) was interviewed on NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED this morning. The interview, by Jason Beaubein, was the last in a five-part series covering the never-ending and tragic drug war in Mexico. Cinco Puntos is publishing a new edition of this classic book which introduced the world (including the federal government) to Pablo Acosta and it's the first detailed account of the system of "la plaza" in Mexico's narco-trafficking. Indeed, as Poppa points out, the Mexican government was the administrator and gate-keeper for the illicit trade of drugs. Below the cover image is our catalog copy.

"The [drug smuggling] business goes on, the slaughtered dead pile up, the US agencies continue to ratchet up their budgets, the prisons grow larger and all the real rules of the game are in this book, some kind of masterpiece."—Charles Bowden, from the introduction

"Pablo Acosta was a living legend in his Mexican border town of Ojinaga. He smuggled tremendous amounts of drugs into the United States; he survived numerous attempts on his power—and his life—by rivals; and he blessed the town with charity and civic improvements. He was finally slain in 1987 during a raid by Mexican officials with the cooperation of US law enforcement. Poppa has turned out a detailed and exciting book, covering in depth Acosta's life; the other drug factions that battled with him; the village of Ojinaga; and the logistics of the drug operation. The result is a nonfiction account with enough greed, treachery, shoot-outs, and government corruption to fascinate true crime and crime fiction readers alike. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

Terrence E. Poppa, an award-winning journalist, was a finalist for a 1987 Pulitzer Prize for his investigations into the connection between crime and government in Mexico. He was featured in Standoff in Mexico, a PBS production about fraudulent elections in Mexico. Due to his unique insights into the world of Mexican drug trafficking, Poppa has been widely interviewed on radio and television, including Larry King Live and The O'Reilly Factor.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

VOYA Magazine: Cinco Puntos Press by Bobby Byrd

The following article appeared in the August, 2010 issue (Volume 33, Number 3) of VOYA Magazine. VOYA is the acronym for "Voice of Youth Advocates." We are honored to have the article published in such a well-established, national magazine. 

Cinco Puntos Press: 
Publishing Multicultural Books for American Teens
by Bobby Byrd

“The path has its own intelligence.”

I saw this quotation on the business card of Cherokee poet and performance artist Joy Harjo. Its wisdom makes a lot of sense to Cinco Puntos, especially as a way to navigate the business of being a small and very independent book publisher on the U.S./Mexico Border. In fact, I would argue that this motto epitomizes the Cinco Puntos approach to publishing. Twenty-five years ago Lee and I inaugurated our business in our home in the Five Points neighborhood of El Paso--hence, our company’s name. We had little or no idea what we were doing. And worse, we were doing it in El Paso, the edge of the republic and a long distance away from the accepted “cultural centers” of the nation and the American Southwest.

But independent publishing, we soon discovered is like writing, (Lee is a novelist; I am a poet). It’s local. And “local” in El Paso means the Chicano or Mexican-American experience. So as Cinco Puntos evolved we followed our own path through the cultural landscape and, because of our place, we began to publish books emphasizing the Mexican-American experience with a strong taste of the U.S./Mexico Border. Muy picante. It was natural to us. It was where we lived. And we were publishing books that the big New York City publishing companies ignored. They didn’t understand. How could they? They lived in the wrong place.  
But we were lucky. It was 1985 when we started publishing books. The country was waking up to find a new cultural lingo seeping into our shared vocabulary. America was experiencing the great Mexican Diaspora in an unprecedented way. American librarians and educators in Connecticut and Oregon, Nebraska and Mississippi began hearing their students speaking Spanish. They began needing bilingual books and books that spoke of the Mexican and Mexican-American experience. The rest of the country began to experience what comes naturally to people--especially artists and writers--living on the U.S./Mexico Border. They needed books that spoke to this new and growing demographic, especially for their Young Adults.

A perfect example is our book Vatos, a collaboration of poem and photographs between writer Luis Alberto Urrea and photographer José Galvez that has become one of our signature books. Even the story of the book’s inception is unique. One evening, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer José Galvez heard Luis Alberto Urrea read “Hymn to Vatos Who Will Never Be in a Poem” with its chant-like repetitions and its evocation of Chicano manhood. As Luis read each line, an image clicked in José’s memory, and he knew that he had already taken that photograph. Immediately after the reading he approached Luis about putting together a book. They agreed; José put together a mock-up of his vision and sent it through an agent to publishers near and far. For two years the book got nowhere, but in 1999, hearing about the Cinco Puntos Press reputation for publishing books rooted in the Mexican-American experience, José brought the book to us.

We understood immediately. These men celebrated in the book were like our friends and neighbors in the Five Points neighborhood of El Paso. We said Yes, certainly we will publish it.

“Vato” is one of those street terms that is just now entering through the backdoor of the larger culture’s lexicon. It means “dude” or it might be translated as “brother” on the streets of an African-American neighborhood in the Bronx or South Chicago. The lines of the poem, and their adjacent images, provide a collective voice for those Latino men who have been erased or ignored. The words pay tribute to all the fathers, uncles, brothers and others who have typically remained unheard or unnoticed. The entire text consists of sixty-one lines. Every line, except the last one, starts with “All the vatos” and follows with a six beat homage to the modern Latino man. The chant-like rhythm makes for a different kind of reading experience whether one is reading silently or aloud, by oneself or as a choral group. The book instills the belief that ordinary people are extraordinary, and the last line personalizes the main message, “All you vatos, you are not forgotten.”

Vatos was chosen as a YALSA Young Adult Reluctant Readers’ Quick Pick, received an award from the Latino Hall of Fame and was selected for the Texas Library TAYSHAS Reading List. It also has a huge underground reputation among Mexican-American kids who find themselves in the photographs and language of two men who come from the same place that they come from.

Vatos was our first really “Young Adult” book although many before had been used as cross-overs for teaching in the classroom. Yet, as is the way in independent publishing, its publication began leading us down the path toward other Young Adult books. Writers who knew and appreciated Vatos began sending us their manuscripts. And because of its “political” edge, other writers from around the country began contacting us about projects and ideas and manuscripts. Thus, our reputation as a YA publisher has grown immensely. We’ve done historical novels about Hispanics girls in rural 1930s New Mexico (the Abraham sisters Cecilia series), an immigrant Jewish girl in the East Village of New York City in the early 1910s (Eve Tal's Double Crossing and Cursing Columbus), a girl growing up in a barrio on the border and losing her father (The Smell of Old Woman Perfume by Claudia Martinez). We have published two very successful award-winning novels from Benjamin Alire Saénz, the first of which, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, really launched Ben into the YA marketplace. And now his brilliant novel Last Night I Sang to the Monster about a teenage alcoholic and victim of abuse. Just recently Cinco Puntos has entered the world of graphic novels. Our first was Pitch Black by Youme Landowne and Anthony Horton about a homeless black man who lives in the tunnels beneath the subways in New York City. And just this May we published Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush written by Luis Alberto Urrea and illustrated by Brooklyn graphic artist Christopher Cardinale.

We’ve discovered during all this time that Yes, the path does have its own intelligence. Our job is to be attentive to where it’s going and to always publish good writing and good books that come from the roots of experience.

For us that’s always been a multi-cultural experience. We would have it no other way. It’s how we see America.

—Bobby Byrd
Cinco Puntos Press