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Ideas originales de librerías callejeras. Photo: John Locke Blog.
Original ideas from street bookstores. Photo: John Locke Blog.

"Recommend a Book After the Beep": The original project to make Latinx authors visible (and read)

Latinx individuals are also a minority in the publishing industry. To alleviate this, "Lee Mas", the version 2.0 of the "word-of-mouth" book recommendations,…

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Have you ever played whisper down the lane? In it, one person whispers something in another person's ear and the second person tries to convey to a third person the message whispered by the first one, and so on. The goal of the game is to get the message to the last participant as much as possible or, at least, to laugh at how it has changed as it goes from one receiver to the other. 

The same thing happens with Latinx literature. Not only are few books published — barely 6% of the works published in the big American publishing industry are by authors labeled as Latinx — but they also often don't make it to the huge media loudspeaker and their promotion works through so-called "mouth-to-ear" exchanges.

To remedy this, Tony Hollingsworth, a social media and brand strategist, had an idea: create a toll-free number for recommendations of Latinx authors.

Named 1-888-LEE-MAS-1, the "Lee Mas" project is a very original way to expand that mouth-to-ear recommendation chain by building on the solidarity and support for minorities fostered by the Black Live Matters movement, as Hollingsworth told Remezcla. 

"How can I, as a Black man, do more to support my Latino brothers and sisters? Especially because many have been strong allies in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement," he said.

It works very simply. 

Imagine calling the number " Lee-Mas." At the other side of the line, a person greets you and recommends a book by a Latinx author through a recorded message. Once this is done, you have the option to do the same and leave your own recommendation in just one minute for someone else to hear. 

Once you have recorded 30 recommendations, Tony Hollingsworth's idea is to buy these books from New York City Latino bookstores and donate them to the Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA), as well as talk to teachers about incorporating these works into their curriculum. 

"Listening to readers creates connections and encourages interactions on a much deeper level than just reading a review in plain text or a list of books," the activist, whose original method expands on the success some books have without a million-dollar marketing campaigns to support them and reaching readers through the readers themselves, he said to Michaela Vargas from Remezcla.

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