by Marina Cianferoni and her husband Juan Garbayo Guijarro for the publishing company they founded in Spain in 2020.
Their books exclusively tell stories connected to the world of motorcycles, some of which are really incredible. Could we have left it at that? Certainly not! We contacted Marina for an interview…
Marina, a journalist and writer who has always been in love with motorcycles, moved to Spain for love (of Juan, a former architect who now manages the graphics of the books they publish) and here soon realised that motorcycle publishing is practically non-existent.
The couple set out to create books that tell nostalgic stories of biker “survivors” who live astride a motorcycle, finding their way by consulting an oil-stained map.
LMS Ediciones has already published 7 books in Spain and a few months ago it arrived in Italy as well (as well as in France), with several of the titles translated into Italian. The volume that is seeing the most success amongst fans is “Sola, in moto” (Lone rider) by Elspeth Beard, the storied English traveller who between 1982 and 1984 went around the world on a motorcycle by herself.
Intrigued by this publishing house and aided by our direct acquaintance with Marina from when she still worked as a journalist and rode “special” motorcycles, we contacted her to have her tell us about this change in her life, and she was very candid with us.
Marina, how did you begin such a specialised publishing project abroad?
I suppose that the spark came from the fact that, when my partner and I decided to live permanently in Spain, in 2016, we were both basically at a turning point in our lives.
Juan, an architect, was tired of designing offices for a multinational company that paid him very little and he was tired of living in Madrid, he was looking for freedom and a sort of creative rebellion, like the fulfilment of a life-long dream.
I had already stopped writing articles in Italian and Spanish motorcycle magazines for some time at that point, for the same reason: laughable pay, and in the end very little satisfaction, little freedom to do what I really wanted to do. Coming here, moreover in a rather solitary rural environment, I literally threw myself into narrative writing so I wouldn’t risk feeling like just a full-time mother.
In essence, we were alone with our passions and our anxieties: motorcycles, books, classic films, what we didn’t like and what we would have liked. Then, as I believe you’ve already read, in 2017 we ran into an unexpected health problem which for one of us could have gone much worse than it did and this is when we developed more of a sense of urgency to stop wasting time: in one year, we set up the website, and thanks to old friendships and my meagre past as a journalist, we already had the right contacts for the first three books we would then go on to publish.
In a land of motorcycle lovers and riders like Spain, why was specialised publishing so scarce?
For a much simpler reason than you might believe: the number of those who read (about motorcycles no less!) is alarmingly low. Lower than in Italyl From what I was able to see in person, and from what Juan has always told me, in this country there is less culture, even in the area of motorcycles, or better, culture arrived late, at least twenty years after it arrived in Italy. And unfortunately, this delay is evident in many regards, which perhaps cannot be seen from the outside. To sum up, I could say that there’s less curiosity, and much less openness to what is not strictly local, and even regional. And when there is no curiosity and culture, unfortunately, there are no books, or obviously readers.
How did the Spanish public respond to the books you’ve published and how is it going in other markets?
The Spaniards that we have reached so far (of course, nearly exclusively online, as we began operating right in the middle of a pandemic…) are EXCITED about our books and how we send them: wrapped in black tissue paper, each with a bookmark and a personalised thank you note designed by hand by Juan. The problem, for now, is that unfortunately there aren’t many. Each run, we print from 500 to 700 copies of each volume, and certain titles, without a doubt the more difficult ones on one hand, but on the other hand also the more “peculiar”, like the book by Biberman (the last to come out in Italy) or the biography of Fay Taylour, are still far from their second edition… It is true that some of our greatest fans, having read one, have bought all of them, but there is still the insurmountable obstacle of reaching others who are not big readers. I wonder, expanding the field to Italians as well, how those riders who don’t read can feel like they are real “motorcycle riders”.
There is not a more obstinate, freer and purer motorcycle traveller than the tireless reader, always balanced on the line of concentration, always seeking out a dimension “beyond” reality.
Without ever making our readers pay too much, we decided to publish only quality stories that have a minimum of literary dignity (often, I won’t lie, earned by working very hard on translations), wrapped in packaging that make them almost as beautiful as a vintage motorcycle. This is why we decided to enter France, and thanks to a friend who is a motorcycle rider, photographer and journalist, we have the book by Elspeth Beard in translation, that which in Italy is selling most along with Oxley’s “Il prezzo della velocità” (Stealing Speed).
What are you working on at the moment?
We have a number of books on the waiting list and many ideas to be developed: a series made up of “low cylinder” stories – smaller, though not less interesting, books – another line of motorcycle books for children, and also travel guides inspired by “Twists & Turns” (for Spain obviously). We are only waiting to gain a bigger foothold in the market and visibility.
What can I say, Marina Cianferoni really laid herself bare with the fans on our portal and we’d like to repay her by saying that we cannot but feel empathy and the desire to promote her project. A brief description of the books already available in Italian or in the publication phase is provided below.
STEALING SPEED by Matt Oxley
The book narrates how one of the largest Japanese motorcycle manufacturers adopted the two-stroke engine developed by a Nazi scientist, who ended up working for MZ during the sombre post-WWII years, in a devastated East Germany dominated by Russia. This is the very difficult and emotional story of the rider Ernst Degner, and his teacher, Walter Kaaden, the engineer who thanks to his experience working on large range missiles, was able to develop a practically unbeatable two-stroke engine. In 1961, in the midst of the Cold War, and when MZ could have won the global championship thanks to its driver, an indomitable man with deep knowledge of the mechanics of his bike, Degner defected, in the name of freedom and money, transferring to Suzuki and bringing with him all of the secrets of the Kaaden engine. The rest is well-known: the victory of the most powerful two-stroke engine in the world, the next year, and the rapid rise to success of the Hamamatsu factory.
Paperback price: €20.00. 272 pages, size: 14×1.8×21.5 cm.
BIG SID’S VINCATI by Matthew Biberman
Presented by the Publishing House in Varano de Melegari and currently for sale on Amazon, the book tells the story of a father and son who decide to create a special, a hybrid that brings together two historical brands: Ducati and Vincent. The result to be achieved aims at aesthetic and dynamic perfection. Technically specific but with a moving and poetic ending, the charisma of the main character, the great American tuner Sid Biberman, makes this book highly engaging.
Paperback price: €21.00. 360 pages, size: 14×2.3×21.5 cm.
THE PRIVATEER by John Ekerold
According to the list we received, this is the next book that will also be available in Italian. It is expected to be distributed by the end of July. THE PRIVATEER is the story, as told by its protagonist, of a historical event that is quite astonishing. An independent rider astride a modified motorcycle challenges and is able to beat high-end brands and their official riders during the 1980 350 cc Grand Prix. It is the story of Jon Ekerold, a South African road racer, from his debut in competitions in his home country to his adventures and misadventures as a privateer aiming to win the Grand Prix. A book that represents an homage to past times and to all of those private riders who have dedicated their lives to motorsports.
THE MAN WHO WOULD STOP AT NOTHING by Melissa Holbrook Pierson
Planned for September (but dating back to 2011), this book analyses the madness that has always characterised long-distance motorcycling like they do it in the US. A book that is as usual “cultured”, which uses the direct experiences of John Ryan as a springboard to reflect on the natural instinct of human beings to always put themselves to the test, even risking their life just to feel more alive. A very unique book which, although not a travel story in the classic sense, is worth a read.
TWO WHEELS AND A CRANK CAMERA by Marina Cianferoni
Lastly there is a book by Marina (she also translated the books listed above). The content bounces between motorcycles and film, revised, edited and updated along with Costantino Frontalini and his amazing replicas (it will also be the first book with photographs).
Also in December, the list of publications in our language should be expanded with the volume by Anne-France Dautheville ET J’AI SUIVI LE VENT (the title in Italian has not yet been decided): a trip around the world, this time completed in 1973 by a woman alone, totally different in spirit from that made by Elspeth. A fun story, and very 1970s!
To learn more:
La Mala Suerte Ediciones
33785 La Montera, Valdés – Asturias