El Paso’s Cinco Puntos press sold to New York-based Lee & Low Books

The last chapter was written for Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso.

Bobby and Lee Byrd’s husband and wife team sold their literary assets to New York-based Lee & Low Books.

The Byrds, who have stood up for Chicano writers over their 36 years in business, announced the sale on Monday morning, along with family members and beloved authors including Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

“We have known and admired the work of Lee & Low for many years. Like Cinco Puntos, their books celebrate and explore the vast tapestry of cultures, ethnicities and human experiences,” said Bobby Byrd, 79.

He added that “most importantly for us, they will honor the legacy of Cinco Puntos and the extraordinary work of our authors and illustrators”.

“Yes, we are sad that Cinco Puntos is leaving El Paso but instead of disappearing, Cinco Puntos will be an imprint of their business.”

Lee Byrd, 76, said the couple had been considering the publisher’s future for several years. The coronavirus pandemic, however, pushed them to act.

Lee and Bobby Byrd, owners of Cinco Puntos Press, alongside El Paso author Alessandra Varela, left, editor Jessica Powers, second right, and acclaimed El Paso author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.  The Byrds announced Monday that they are selling the publisher to a New York-based company.

“We’ve actually been thinking about it for about three or four years. Bobby and I are both getting older and it was going to play out eventually,” she said.

“The pandemic really pushed him over the edge. We kept saying it wasn’t working. We needed more resources and we couldn’t do it. And our sales were cut because schools were down. closed, ”she said.

Lee Byrd said the New York publisher, which is the nation’s largest publisher of multicultural children’s books, has long been interested in Cinco Puntos, located at 701 Texas Ave.

The publication of Joe Hayes’ classic bilingual storybook, “La Llorona / The Weeping Woman”; Morris Award winner “Gabi, a Girl in Pieces” by Isabel Quintero; and Saenz’s “It All Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club” are among his successes.

"La Llorona / The crying woman," by Joe Hayes, was the third book published by Cinco Puntos Press.  It has sold over 600,000 copies.

Lee Byrd said the independent publisher was founded by Chinese Americans who understand the importance of diversity and have a long history of publishing color designer books.

“Here we are in El Paso and our thing has been Chicano literature and it is a good choice for everyone,” she said. “They have a large education market, they have deeper pockets and they know how to print abroad.”

The publisher will add 130 titles to the Lee & Low list.

While this is good news for the Byrds, who will have time for something else, the announcement was touching for some writers, who are now considered good friends.

The publisher’s first book was “Winners on the Pass Line” by Dagoberto Gilb, now a collector’s item, and the third book, “La Llorona”, by Joe Hayes, has sold over 600,000 copies.

Lee Byrd, president of Cinco Puntos Press, received hugs on Monday from the El Paso writers he published.  The owners announced that they were selling the literary assets to a New York-based publisher.

Other distinguished authors and artists from the South West region include Rudolfo Anaya, David Romo, their daughter Susie Byrd, Beto O’Rourke, Gaspar Enriquez and the late Gloria Osuna Perez.

Saenz said winning the PEN / Faulkner Award for “It All Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club” was a highlight of his literary career and he thanks Cinco Puntos Press.

“I was the first Latino to win this award and I wouldn’t have this award without Cinco Puntos Press, because publishers can only offer a limited number of books. At Cinco Puntos Press, I was the star.” , did he declare. “They nominated this book and it was an amazing thing. I’m very proud of it.”

The owners of Cinco Puntos Press plan to sell their building at 701 Texas Ave.

An evening was scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, June 28, at the publishing house.

The inventory will be sent to Lee & Low Books by the end of the week.

More good reads:Book Nook, a place to read, opens Friday at Sunland Park Mall

After:El Pasoan gives La Llorona a break from being a monster, making her a hero in new comic

María Cortés González can be reached at 915-546-6150; [email protected]; @EPTMaria on Twitter.


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