A Conversation With Luis de Miranda


Haute Culture Books is a participative publishing venture, headed by author and publisher Luis de Miranda. Our philosophy is simple: digital books should be free, physical books should be sublime.

Haute Culture aims to refresh the publishing business model, making it both more participatory and more elegant. Each Haute Culture volume will launch with a luxury limited edition, using hand-bound leather covers, real gold logos and beautiful edgy design. Instead of waiting for readers to come to us after the book is produced, we are going to produce the book with the people who know it, love it, and want to share it with the world. We call them Book Angels. (from Haute Culture Books)

Recently I had a chance to chat with founder and CEO Luis de Miranda about this exciting new publishing venture.

Aaron Westerman: Who is Luis de Miranda?

Luis de Miranda

Linda Ayres (Designer) & Luis de Miranda

Luis de Miranda: Good question. I suppose it is neither psychological nor philosophical. You want to know what relation I have to books. I have written a few novels and essays in French and they were published in Paris by different publishers, some mainstream, some independent. Some of my works have been translated to other languages. I also ran an independent publishing house in France, from 2004 to 2012. I have translated two books myself, one from American English to French, by my now-friend Darcey Steinke, another from French to English, and that is the Flaubert novella we are launching now at Haute Culture.

AW: Where did the idea for Haute Culture Books come from?

LdM: I have been to the Frankfurt book fair many times and was a bit disappointed by the disinterest of US and UK publishers in translated work, but my major reason for starting Haute Cutlure was to create a publishing company that does not compromise, that focuses on beauty and quality. A publisher should be proud to display the books that he produces on his own book shelves, and that is often not the case today. The current publishing model often requires publishers to pin their economic solvency on potential “best-sellers” that they do not believe in. In order to make the world a better place, one must believe that there is a place for the sublime.

AW: What is a Book Angel and why are they so important to the work that you’re undertaking?

LdM: Our model requires a collective production of beauty—“L’union fait la force”, as the French say. A Book Angel is a cultural sponsor that pre-orders our limited collector’s edition and supports the free distribution of e-books. Buyers of our limited print editions, in effect, become benefactors. This model allows individuals to become mini-Medici’s, supporting culture while enjoying their unique limited edition.

AW: Why limited edition hardcovers? How was the number 500 arrived at?

LdM: I believe that an edition with a print run of more than 500 could no longer be considered a rare collector’s item. We want to create unique objects with the potential for increasing value, and so we are aiming for a rare and exclusive collection. Our books are unique art objects, hand-made with fine materials. (See our Flaubert edition) Collectors can be assured that no more than 500 copies of each title will ever be printed. Sometimes a full run will consist of a few different ultra-limited editions.

AW: What qualities made Tammsaare’s Truth and Justice the right novel to publish first? When will it be published?

Truth And Justice

Truth And Justice

LdM: Our first publication is actually a new translation and an ultra-limited bilingual edition of the Flaubert novella, Felicity: The Tale of the Simple Heart. In December 2013, it will be on sale at Assouline Boutiques in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris.

Volume I of Tammsaare’s Truth and Justice is planned for publication in 2014. It is a fine example of an un-translated classic. Tammsaare himself is an icon of 20th century Estonian literature. Two museums, a monument, and a park in the center of Tallinn are all dedicated to him. Unlike some traditional classics, which are widely referred to but rarely read, his masterpiece, Truth and Justice, still retains its place at the front of Estonian bookshelves and yet this epic work has never been translated into English. I also have some personal reasons for launching the press with an Estonian icon like Tammsaare. I wrote my last novel in Estonia three years ago and I wanted to pay homage to the land that inspired me.

 AW: What are some other titles that we can expect in the future?

LdM: We are working on the first English translation of Shatuny, a mind blowing masterpiece by the cult Russian author Yuri Mamleyev. The English title of the book will be The Wildings, and it is currently being translated for Haute Culture by Marian Schwartz, the award-wining translator of Bulgakhov and Berberova.

AW: How many books do you plan to publish per year?

LdM: We hope to publish approximately 5 title each year. Our model is artisanal in nature—we are into slow books.

AW: Will the e-book versions of your titles contain DRM? Will they be available across multiple formats?

LdM: Our first e-book (Flaubert’s Felicity) is currently available as an unprotected PDF. We are giving the e-book away for free and we encourage pirates, unlimited copies, and all ways of spreading the text to reach as many readers as possible.

You can learn more about Haute Culture Books and how you can become a Book Angel by visiting their official website at https://www.hauteculturebooks.com.  You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.