Buying used books is a way of reducing overproduction, but what should we do about new publications? Emerging artists need their work to be known and they also deserve fair compensation for it. But ebooks are not the best solution either, especially for image-based books.
Sometimes a book can offer more than reading. Touching it, feeling its weight, and smelling its pages is a huge part of the literary experience. Books as objects have been around us for centuries and we are not ready to let them go. Fortunately, there are other things we can do to mitigate the consequences of the publishing industry.
Guadalupe Chirotarrab, Marina Alessio and Pilar Villasegura opened Rata Kiosco in December 2021. It is a small bookshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina that was born to bring together in a single space the self-managed local production of books, visual arts fanzines, as well as vinyl and cassette records.
The three women behind Rata Kiosco come from the visual arts, book publishing, and music fields, so they were interested in building a project that could combine their knowledge and experience. “The content we offer is very diverse. We have books, fanzines, artist's books, magazines, hybrid publications, handcrafted objects, and experimental music records”, says Pilar. “But the vast majority are limited publications and special editions. We also have unique treasures for sale, like some out-of-print books, and last copies of books that will not be republished.”
They have a federal approach for the selection of the materials they offer. They first do very extensive research and then a thorough curatorship that determines which books fill the criteria to include in their catalog. “We are always on the lookout for new productions and the emergence of new publishing projects and music labels from all over the country,” explains Pilar, “we are particularly interested in self-reflective and self-referential publications where content and medium are inseparable. For example, for an artist's book, we don’t look for exclusive, expensive, and collectible objects. We understand the artist's book as a working territory and as a way of asking questions. That is why it is essential for us that our books are affordable and portable.”