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ImagenTa, Tarifa: Ildefonso Sena’s Publishing House of Dreams

Martín Serrano · Photos: Fran Montes

ImagenTa, Tarifa: Ildefonso Sena’s Publishing House of Dreams

Who would have thought it? The number one publishing house in the province of Cádiz and fourth in Andalusia, is based in Tarifa. Located in a small garage ‘packed with thousands of useful and useless objects, piles of stuff, all over the place.

Behind it all, Ildefonso Sena sits behind a powerful computer transcribing the stories he receives and turning them into books, thus realizing the dream of many authors who, like our protagonist, feel an immense love for letters, words and stories.

Ildefonso Sena
Ildefonso Sena: ImagenTa

In this tiny room, Sena is already working on the cover of ‘La Travesía’ (‘The Journey’), a work by Fausto Romero. Believe it or not, this will be the 205th book published by ImagenTa since its conception five years ago.

It began as an experiment: “When I left the world of journalism, I wrote a book called ‘Esto tiene un reportaje’ (“There’s a story in this”), a fictional recreation of my journalistic” Sena recalls. “When I had the book in my hand, I had a eureka moment and I figured, with my little knowledge in graphic design, all I needed was to start my own editorial company, register it as a business and it would be more cost effective for me.”

And that’s how it all began: a business set up specifically for the creation of a book that was paid for by the author himself. But Sena, the publisher of ImagenTa Editorial – which is part of ImagenTa Comunicación – didn’t have the faintest idea of what was to come.

Ildefonso Sena

“One week after registering as a publisher, an author from Tarifa – Fran Terán – approached me asking for a quote to publish a book on an on-demand basis – that is to say, the author himself would pay for the book. I gave him a price and he realized that it was much cheaper than conventional printers. That’s how ‘Tarifa y su historia menuda’ (“Tarifa and its little history”) came to light. A month later, journalist Luis Romero arrived with his great work ‘El Consulado General de España en Gibraltar (1716-1954)’ (“The Consulate General of Spain in Gibraltar” (1716-1954), and so it went from there …”

However, ImagenTa won’t publish just any writer; the publisher requires a minimum standard of quality and for the author to be involved in the financing of their work. As the publisher states, “with few exceptions, all authors have found it profitable”. He says “writers are excited about seeing their books published. They know that they are not Pérez Reverte nor are we the Editorial Planeta, so we mainly work with well-known authors from the region and little further.” ImagenTa has published works throughout Andalusia, with the exception of Huelva. “We have been the most active publishing house in Cádiz for the past four years, and we are in fourth place in the Andalusian rankings.”

Imagenta Tarifa Ildefonso Sena

Sena patiently poses for the photographer, and does not seem to be weighed down by the pile of books that he is holding.He is is a well-known character in Tarifa as well as the rest of the region, where he once worked as a maths teacher and a journalist.

Is this a romantic endeavour? “Without a doubt.” “Back then, I had fun as a math teacher and journalist, and I’m still having fun now as a publisher, which is one of the most rewarding jobs there is. When a book arrives, and I show the author the first five copies, I’m always focused on their expression, those moments are priceless”, he says. “Editing is difficult, it’s a job that brings in money, but nothing close to a salary. When someone as active as me retires, it’s not possible to just stop and not have a life; I’m won’t have any of that. This publishing house has saved me and makes for a beautiful vocation.”

My favourite book

Imagenta Ildefonso Sena

Sena has a special affection for a selection of the 205 published works. Fran Terán’s first book, ‘Tarifa y su historia menuda’, for example, and quality books such as the aforementioned book by Luis Romero, or ‘Annual. Los factores que llevaron al desastre’ (“[The Battle of] Annual – The causes of the disaster”) by the veteran, Fernando Caballero – which has been sold all over Spain – or Pepe Beneroso’s ‘Franco en Gibraltar, 1935’.

Sena also knows that this publishing house won’t outlive him, “either because I’ll get tired or I’ll die. My son has another occupation and could not devote himself to this.” He confesses, “my journalistic background has helped me a lot. I feel comfortable; the knowledge I acquired in newsrooms directly connect to my work in the publishing business and, remember, most authors that I’ve published are journalists too. There are very good writers in this region. Should ImagenTa disappear, a new publishing house will no doubt take its place.”

ImagenTa, Tarifa: Ildefonso Sena’s Publishing House of Dreams

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