"We want to help increase the use of Catalan"

We talked with the founders of Tasta Llibres, the first literary subscription in Catalan

30 August 2018
Entrevista Tasta Llibres | Fundació puntCAT

Manel, Joel and Joan are engineering students who are eager to undertake. Together they have already created the Onabitz computer consultancy and are embarking on a new project, Tasta Llibres, a literary subscription in Catalan, according to which users will get a new book every month. An opportunity to discover new Catalan titles and authors.

Who is behind Tasta Llibres?

We are Marc López, a student of biological systems engineering at the ESAB; Joel Acedo and Joan Serra, computer engineering students at the FIB. We have been working together for a while now; at the beginning of last year we started a joint project, a computer consultancy called Onabitz. This summer we have released the first application (Dosaviña, developed by the agricultural mechanisation unit at the UPC) and we also manage different websites (among which is Barcelona’s folkloric cultural association).

We have an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to feature our own project. The three of us are regular readers, and we wanted to do something to promote Catalan language and culture. During a brainstorming meeting we organised at the end of June, where we put forward a few ideas, Tasta Llibres ended up being the chosen option.

What made you choose Tasta Llibres as a project?

One of the reasons why we have decided to create Tasta Llibres is to promote reading in Catalan. We knew that there are similar services in other languages, but there was nothing in Catalan.

We also noticed that secondary school students often stop reading, maybe because compulsory reading lists are not necessarily to their liking. We wanted to create a project that would turn reading into another fun activity and not an obligation.

We also think about regular readers. We wanted them to discover new Catalan authors they may never read on their own.

What is Tasta Llibres all about?

Tasta Llibres is a literary subscription in Catalan. Each month we will send a new literary experience so that the reader can enjoy reading without worries.

How does it work?

It is very easy! You choose one or several schemes you like (fiction, children and young adults, history or poetry), fill in your data, and you are all set. We undertake to prepare a customised experience, while taking care of the tiniest details. Each shipment will include a reading guide with tips drafted by experts. We will do this every second week of each month. From this point on, all you have to do is enjoy the experience. In the box we submit there will be some surprises that will complement the story.

The books we send will be a surprise; they will be announced as soon as the first readers apply for them. We will select both new books and stories from less known authors. Thus, we make sure that the book will be a new experience for the reader.

At what stage is the project now?

We are currently in the midst of a Verkami crowdfunding campaign. For the project to be feasible, we need a minimum number of subscribers and a certain amount of money to get started with guarantees. That is what we want to achieve through this initial campaign.

We already have a lot of artwork about to be included on the website and in the customised box. We have also contacted different publishers (Viena Edicions, Edicions Sidillà and Editorial Comanegra, among others) to select the prospective books for the first shipment at the end of September.

Is there a reward for the sponsors who participate in the crowdfunding campaign?

All contributions above €20 include at least a one-month subscription. Through a contribution you can be a subscriber of Tasta Llibres at a discounted price with regard to the usual one (which will be €22.95/month, which is very similar to the sale price of some books). In addition, those who become sponsors of the campaign get additional gifts (one more book, for example) and discounts for other people.

When do you plan to start?

We could say that we have already started: we are preparing the final website and have also started to contact people to choose the books to be sent in September. Tasta Llibres will start to address the general public as soon as the campaign has been completed successfully, which will be on 17 September. Those people who have become sponsors will receive the Tasta Llibres box between 24 and 28 September.
What kind of books will Tasta Llibres subscribers be able to receive?
We have schemes for all tastes and ages, from toddlers to adults. Initially, we will offer four schemes: fiction, children and young adults, history and poetry.
The books that will be sent may be current launches that have just arrived at the bookstores or we may also send a reprint of a lost work.

The books will be selected by us, though taking into account the advice provided by experts in literature. These experts will also be responsible for drafting the reading tips.

Will all Tasta Llibres books be in Catalan?

They will be books written in Catalan, as we will try to have original Catalan works. However, publishers have also made us see that there are book translations from other languagesthat are quite good.

Do you think that people do not read much in Catalan nowadays?

One of our concerns is that, at present, boys and girls of our generation, as soon as they leave secondary school, stop reading in Catalan. There may be many readers who read in other languages (Spanish, English, etc.), but we believe that very good works written in Catalan are being ignored. Catalan has been historically threatened, and although we believe that it is currently on good footing, there is still room for an increased use. We want to contribute to expanding the use of Catalan.

We have seen that you have planned to allocate a part of the benefits to non-profit entities. What kind of projects do you want to work with?

Donations will be allocated to projects promoting Catalan language, teaching and culture. One form of donation will be to send books free of charge to schools and libraries with low resources.

Are all subscriptions managed through your website?

Yes, once the Verkami campaign is completed, subscription management will be done exclusively through the website. Each user will be able to manage their subscription, thus being able to stop it or resume it whenever they want. If someone has any doubt or wishes to contact us, they can also do so through social networks.

Why did you decide to commit to the .cat domain for your website?

Since the project wants to promote Catalan, the choice was clear. On the Internet, the best way to show interest in Catalan is by choosing the .cat domain.

How do you imagine Tasta Llibres in 5 years’ time?

We want Tasta Llibres to be the reference service for literary subscriptions in Catalan and be known for its task of promoting Catalan language and culture.

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