See also (Versión en Español)
The cartonera publishing phenomenon began in Buenos Aires in 2003 and was spearheaded by writers and artists interested in reconfiguring the conditions in which literary art is produced and consumed. They came up with a progressive new publishing model that challenges and contests the neo-liberal political and economic hegemony. The initial group called Eloísa Cartonera has not only changed the publishing scene in Argentina but also the scene across Latin America by functioning as a model and an inspiration for the development of over ninety cartonera publishing projects in Latin America, Europe, and Africa.
Cartoneras or cartonera publishers are small independent publishing houses created on a not-for-profit basis. In some cases these denominate themselves as collectives, cooperatives or social sculpture projects. Their books are hand-made from recycled cardboard (therefore the name “cartonera”) collected off the streets, in some cases, by cartoneros, or garbage pickers, who then sell the cardboard they collect to the cartoneras. Some of these publishers involve the garbage pickers on the production process of the actual books themselves side by side with the writers, editors, and the publishers.
The cardboard covers are hand painted and assembled in a process that reconfigures the relation between author, publisher, worker and readers. This social, economic, and literary practice aids in the democratization of the book and access to literature for everyone, everywhere.
By using recycled cardboard, working collectively, and offering their books on the streets or in outdoor markets, cartoneras have decreased production and distribution costs. As a consequence, they can sell their books for at least a third of the price of a conventional book, thus making them more accessible to a public previously ignored by the traditional publishing industry. The accessibility of cartonera books allows issues of literacy in countries with very low literacy rates to be addressed and changed. Several of the cartonera projects have also established social and educational elements to their program and are using the creation of the cartonera books to redefine the relationship between the book and the public.
With a growing collection of over 1,000 volumes representing over 55 different cartonera publishers, UW-Madison’s Ibero-American collection holds one of the largest and most comprehensive cartonera collections in the U.S. This collection is a work in progress, and new titles and resources are added periodically.
The Publishers represented in this collection are located in over 19 countries across the Americas, Europe, and Africa:
- Argentina (Cieneguita Cartonera, Ediciones La Maleta Ilegal, Editora Cartonera Amarillo, Rojo y Azul, Editorial Municipal de Chivilcoy, Editorial Retazos, Eloísa Cartonera, La Sofia Cartonera, Ñaisandy Cartonera, Textos de Cartón, Ya era)
- Bolivia (Chanchito Ediciones, Editorial 4Nombres Cartonera, La Propia SCZ Cartonera, Nicotina Cartonera, Rostro Asado Cartonera, Yerba Mala Cartonera)
- Brazil (Boitempo Editorial, Cosette Cartonera, Dulcinéia Catadora, Estação Catadora, Gráfica/Editora Kadê, La Katarina Kartonera, Magnolia Cartonera, Malha Fina Cartonera, Mariposa Cartonera, Expresso Muamba, Sereia Ca(n)tadora, Severina Catadora, Vento Norte Cartonero)
- Chile (Animita Cartonera, Canita Cartonera, Editorial Cartonera Helecho De, Editorial Cayó La Teja, Costalazo Ediciones, Editorial Opalina Cartonera, Fonola Cartonera, Fugitiva Cartonera, Isidora Cartonera, Juanita Cartonera, La Grullita Cartonera, La Joyita Cartonera, Loquita Cartonera, Multicancha Ediciones, Olga Cartonera, Pulmari Ediciones)
- China (Feng)
- Colombia (Amapola Cartonera, Cartongrafías de la memoria, Delahogado Elsombrero Cartonera, La Maestra Cartonera, Patasola Cartonera)
- Costa Rica (Bengala (Re)ediciones Cartonera, Cartonera Tica)
- Cuba (Costanera Editorial, Ediciones Hojalata, Ediciones Samandar, Niñobúho Cartonera)
- El Salvador (Editorial EquiZZero, La Cabuda Cartonera, Pirata Cartonera)
- Ecuador (Dadaif Cartonera, Hiervaluisa Cartonera, Matapalo Cartonera)
- France (Association La Marge, Babel Cartonnière, Cephisa Cartonera, Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat de Région des Pays de la Loire Délégation Maine-et-Loire, Cosette Cartonera, Kartocéros Editions, La Guêpe Cartonnière, La Marge Atelier d’Edition Participatif, Yvonne Cartonera)
- Guatemala (Proyecto Editorial Los zopilotes)
- Germany (Papka Kartonbuchverlag)
- Honduras (Colectivo Letra Ele)
- Italy (FernAnda Pappetrice, Storie di Cartone)
- Mexico (Andariego Editorial, Cartonera La Cecilia, Cartopirata, Cascarón Artesanal, Cohuiná Cartonera, Cuxtitali Cartonera, Diógenes Internacional, Ediciones Alimana, Ediciones Clandestino, Ediciones del Varrio Xino, Ediciones El Viaje, Ediciones La Social, Ediciones Sna Jk’optik, Editorial Cartonera Iguanazul, Editorial Cerromuerto, Editorial Fridaura, Editorial Puf!, Editorial Son del Barrio, Editorial Sin Fe, Editorial Viento Cartonero, El pato con canclas editorial, Flor de Manita Cartonera, Fuente de Poder, Grupo Editorial Mamá Dolores, Insurrección Indomita Ed., Kodama Cartonera, La Biznaga Cartonera, La Cartonera, La Panorámica Editorial La Ratona Cartonera, La Rueda Cartonera, Maya Cartonera, miCielo Ediciones, Nauyaca Cartonera, Nuestro Grito Cartonero Editorial, Pachuk’ Cartonera, Regia Cartonera, Santa Muerte Cartonera, Sylar Burroughs Editorial, Tegus Cartonera, Textual Editorial, Tribu Colectiva de Teatros de Participación, Viejo Cartonero)
- Mozambique (Kutsemba Cartão, Livaningo Cartão d’arte)
- Panama (Pelo Malo Cartonera)
- Paraguay (Felicita Cartonera, Mamacha Kartonera, MBurukujarami Kartonéra, Yiyi Jambó Cartonera)
- Peru (Amaru Cartonera, Cartonazo Editores, Casa Katatay, Efraín y Enrique Editores Cartoneros, La Apacheta Cartonera, La Ingeniosa Cartonera, Otra Cosa Cartonera, Qinti Qartunir, Sarita Cartonera, Sullawayta Cartonera, Viringo Cartonero)
- Portugal (Bela Cartonera)
- Puerto Rico (Atarraya Cartonera)
- Spain (Aída Cartonera, Artillería Cartonera, Cabra Violeta, Cartonera Island, Cartonerita Niñabonita, Cartopiés Cartonera, Cordelería Ilustrada, Ediciones Karakartón, Ediciones Zerkalo, La Imprenta CG, La Verónica Cartonera, Meninas Cartoneras, Paquita Cartonera, Pensaré Cartoneras, Ultramarina Cartonera)
- Sweden (POESIAconC)
- Uruguay (La Propia Cartonera)
- United States (Cardboard House Press, La Tetra Cartonera, Memphis Cartonera, Rosalita Cartonera)
- Venezuela (Ediciones Dirtsa Cartonera, Pirata Cartonera)
The Cartonera Publishers Database includes digital scans of the covers and title page of the cartonera books held at UW-Madison as well as additional materials such as audio files of interviews to members of several cartonera publishing projects. All the material has been digitized and uploaded with permission from the publishers or interviewees. Updates to this database are done annually but the physical collection continues to grow as we acquire new books.
History of the print collection of cartonera books at UW-Madison
The Cartonera Collection at Memorial Library was started in the spring of 2006 by Ibero-American Studies Bibliographer Paloma Celis Carbajal after meeting in person with members of Eloísa Cartonera during an acquisitions trip to Buenos Aires. Professor Alda Blanco graciously volunteered to bring from Buenos Aires the first 100 books for this collection.
Currently, new titles are sought in a variety of ways; by following their posts in this project’s Facebook group “Libros Cartoneros: Reciclando el paisaje editorial en América Latina”, several cartonera blogs, their Facebook pages, other blogs and websites that talk about them, and also in newspapers, journals, and magazines in print and online.
In most occasions the bibliographer has acquired the books in person. Additionally, this collection has been extremely lucky to have graduate students and faculty volunteer to acquire cartonera books for the library when they travel abroad. Most recently, the collection has been receiving several generous donations of cartonera books directly from the publishers.
Disclaimer: This collection and its database do not hold the entire production of cartonera publishers worldwide.
- Akademia Cartonera: A Primer of Latin American Cartonera Publishers (book, full-text online)
- Cartonera Publishers Research Guide
- Cartoneras Publishers Conference 2009 (website)
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