MADRID – Spanish publisher Santillana, a leader in Latin America and Spain in the educational field, marked its 50th anniversary Tuesday with an event in Madrid at which Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe spoke of the company’s “commitment to education and culture.”
Santillana groups major literary imprints like Alfaguara and Taurus, and numerous writers attended the ceremony including Javier Marias, Luis Mateo Diez, Rosa Montero and Carmen Posadas.
Marias, whose work is translated into 37 languages, is one of the outstanding writers of Alfaguara, which also publishes books by Nobel laureates Mario Vargas Llosa, Günter Grass and the late Jose Saramago, whose widow, Pilar del Rio, attended the Tuesday night event.
Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia, presided over the event honoring the long track record of the Santillana firm founded by Jesus de Polanco, who from the beginning knew how to give a “Hispano-American dimension” to his project, current CEO Emiliano Martinez said.
That “young entrepreneur, with little experience in the world of books and with very modest capital” equivalent to less than 4,000 euros ($5,354), created Santillana, a company that today has become “a relevant reality in the field of cultural industries,” Martinez said.
The publishing house currently takes in “revenues close to 650 million euros ($870 million) and net profits of more than 50 million ($67 million), sold more than 120 million copies last year and works with 2,500 authors,” the CEO said.
Prince Felipe took the occasion to pay tribute to the Spanish publishing industry for performing “a crucial role” during the current economic crisis of projecting the importance of the language internationally as well as the richness and variety of Spanish culture.
Books and education, said the director of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, Jose Manuel Blecua, “are basic focal points of western culture” and are the “true paths to freedom.”
As Blecua recalled, the publishing relationship with the Americas began centuries ago.
The first edition of Cervantes’ Don Quixote “went with the fleet to America,” while the poetry of Mexico’s Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz was printed in Madrid and later distributed overseas,” he noted.
At the end of the commemorative event, the Santillana executives presented the prince and princess with a special edition of Saramago’s “El Viaje del Elefante” (The Elephant’s Journey). EFE