BY LARRY LUXNER | [url=http://www.CubaNews.com]http://www.CubaNews.com[/url]
Havana now has its own answer to Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive magazine: The H.
The glossy new bilingual magazine made its debut at a Mar. 22 cocktail party at the Hotel Riviera, billing itself as “Havana’s essential lifestyle magazine.”
Editor-in-chief Romulo Sans told CubaNews that 1,000 copies of a prototype issue have been printed, but that the quarterly magazine will have a print run of 15,000 to 20,000 once it’s in circulation by this September. Sans, a native of Barcelona, said he has 15 collaborators on his team including freelance writers, graphic designers and photographers. The most famous of these is German photographer Sven Creutzmann.
“Our objective is to show the world that Havana is more than just rum, cigars and pretty mulatas. There’s also a contemporary generation of artists, fashion designers and hip-hop,” he said. “We’re not going to try to cover topics that have been covered over and over. We want to focus on lifestyle, rock-androll and contemporary art.
We won’t talk about business or politics.” The 164-page prototype, published in an unusual square format, boasts outstanding digital photography and paper quality of a type almost never seen in Cuba. And the subject matter is unusual, too.
Famous Havana singer Vannia Borges graces the cover of The H; other feature story-photo packages explore everything from casting for Havana’s famous Tropicana cabaret to 1940sera motorized bicycles known as riquimbilys. At the back of the book is a comprehensive tourist listing of hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, complete with addresses, phone numbers and ratings.
Sans said the magazine will be distributed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Americas for roughly $8 to $10 per copy (or its equivalent in euros).
Financing this project is Ceiba Finance Ltd., a British investment fund headquartered in the Channel Islands. Sebaastian A.C. Berger, director of Havana- based Zapa International Management Ltd., said his fund is investing $500,000 in the project. The firm, previously known as Beta Gran Caribe Ltd., has also invested in various hotel, infrastructure and real-estate projects (see CubaNews, December 2003, page 11).
“I had this on my list of things that were definitely lacking in Cuba, but to say it was my idea is giving myself too much credit,” Berger told us. “It was Romulo who came up with the idea and the business to make it work.” Berger said the team doesn’t need permission from the Cuban government to publish The H, since the whole thing is done outside Cuba, “but we have chosen to make it a nonpolitical, non-economic lifestyle magazine” for practical reasons.
Well over 50% of the new magazine’s revenue will come from major advertisers such as airlines and hotel chains, though Sans declined to identify potential advertisers since negotiations are still underway. Another idea is to distribute the publication in the businessclass section of major airlines flying to Cuba. The H has its own website, appropriately titled [url=http://www.thehmagazine.com]http://www.thehmagazine.com[/url] with cultural events and other information updated on a weekly basis. Soon, it could also be accompanied by its own line of clothing.
The big question is: When will The H start making money? “A magazine normally isn’t profitable until Year 3,” said Berger, “so if we can beat that, it will be lovely.”
“We’re working on a deal with Infotur so they can distribute it here through newsstands, hotels and information kiosks.” Sans, who worked for several years as an art director in New York’s fashion district, is “negotiating on a few different options” in the States, where he says “there’s been huge interest in the magazine.” Advertisements will cost anywhere from $3,000 for an inside full page to $5,000 for a back-page ad and $8,000 for a double-page spread in the front of the book.
H is being printed by Comgraphic S.A. of Barcelona, which Sans considers one of the best printers in Spain. Since it is not coming from Cuba, the magazine isn’t subject to restrictions under the U.S. embargo, he said.
Details: Romulo B. Sans, Editor-in-chief, H,
Calle Manuel Moreno 116, Vilassar de Dalt,
08339 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: +53 7 264-8181.