The book as an elixir

Blog / Auteur : web ~ Tuesday 23rd June 2020

PABLO ZENDRERA TOMÁS (1924-2020) Publisher

The book as an elixir

Pablo Zendrera, who died on April 6 in Barcelona at the age of 96, not only seemed to be called upon to take over the reins of the legendary publishing house Juventud because of the tradition of the offspring picking up the baton from the family business, but also because he was born barely a year after it began. In 1923, his father, José Zendrera Fecha, had founded the company on a self-taught basis, opting for a heterogeneous profile that was attentive to the country's linguistic plurality: art collections, illustrated children's works, the series dedicated to travels and expeditions (with adventurers like Michel Peissel and Thor Heyerdahl), popular novels, science popularization, biographies... But without a doubt the greatest contribution to the literary formation of the Spaniards were the comics of Tintin by the Belgian Hergé (from 1957 and with Pablo Zendrera at the helm) and the adventures of The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Editorial Juventud understood the importance of creating new readers from childhood. By the way, one of the most successful lines was the romance novel, which we called "pink novel" because that's what the publishing house called it..

He joined Juventud in 1945. "So the problem was the shortage of paper, which was slowly being solved. The market was hungry for good books, and since there was very little competition, it was easy to sell out quickly," he would remember. Over almost five decades, he has remained faithful to or reinforced the company's main themes while continuing to pursue his own interests, focusing on the sea, the mountains and travel, while promoting the export of the catalogue, with Latin America as a priority focus.

The biggest professional disappointment came with his departure from Juventud in 1995, after a bitter family feud. At the time of his departure, the publishing house had published nearly ten thousand titles, in Spanish, Catalan and Galician. He soon had another ambitious project underway: to chair the Zendrera Group, formed by the Noray, Zendrera Zariquiey and Sirpus publishers, whose management, following his father's example, he entrusted to three of his eight children. The crisis of 2008 put an end to this new journey, which, however, did not bring the curtain down, as the Zendrera name is now behind the Zephyrum publisher and the low-cost bookstore franchise Re-Read.

ANTONIO LOZANO (La Vanguardia) April 28, 2020

Pablo Zendrera Tomás, Publisher

How did Tintin get to Juventud?

Tintin's case is very curious. My father met Casterman, the editor of Tintin, at a congress of publishers in Rome around 1950. Casterman told him about Tintin and the good sales it had in Belgium and France. Before we got the rights, Casterman had published a couple of Spanish titles to sell in Spain. It was a total failure. So he proposed to my father to keep the remaining copies of the edition he had made. If he accepted, he would grant him the publishing rights. The Spanish translation was done by my sister Conchita who was very enthusiastic.

Tintín changed the perception of comics in Spain until then...

It cost a lot, because at that time a comic book in Spain was a low-priced product. It was difficult for us to convince people that it wasn't the same comic booklet as always, that it was a much higher class book with a very careful binding. We finally got it. Sales increased until it was a huge success. The biggest we've ever had.

And in America?

It took a lot to introduce Tintín to America. In fact, it was difficult everywhere, but in the end I got people to buy it in Argentina and Colombia.

Noms per una Història de l’Edició a Catalunya. Roser Rahola i Pablo Zendrera
Interview with Pablo Zendrera by Jaume Vidal. Edited by Guild of Editors of Catalunya.
2003, Barcelona.

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