My name is Emanuele Basile and, although I have been in the publishing industry for more than 25 years, it is with fresh enthusiasm and sincere joy that, for a few months now, I have been concentrating on a new project that, together with Francesca Arengi, I would like to present to you.
As a matter of fact, the Ubiliber project has originated as part of the vast and forward-looking interests of Unione buddhista italiana. The mission of this newly formed publishing company is to publish the most significant Buddhist works available on the international arena so as to offer additional positive options to those who want to take a journey towards spiritual growth.
Aware of the incredible opportunity that we have to work with books, and even more so with books on the Dharma, we want to move in this universe with competence and professionalism, treasuring the fact that life, including one’s working life, is rich in lightness and sensitivity, method and fantasy, knowledge and discoveries, laughing and… silence. It is up to us to grasp it in its multiple facets.
We are committed to producing publications that are accessible and relevant, of high aesthetic and technical quality, and enjoyable by anyone who is interested in Buddhism. Drawing on the entire spectrum of the Buddhist tradition, we shall publish commentaries, translations of canonical texts, meditation books, works by masters and by contemporary authors to then dare to offer essays, fiction, collected poems, children’s books and graphic novels, in an attempt to emphasize the interplay among the various disciplines of knowledge, natural science and the never-ending search for the ultimate reality.
The exceptional professionals working with us along this path, whom I want to thank, are very experienced in publishing. For our part, leveraging our long experience in this sector, we shall try to be innovative while remaining respectful of the long and consolidated tradition of the lively Italian and international book market. Why Ubiliber? The choice of a name offers an opportunity to shed light on one’s own intent. This name came out spontaneously and it evocatively enshrines the multiple souls of our publishing company and of the world it wants to voice. Therefore, Unione buddhista italiana, Ubi, which is also a Latin adverb meaning when, was coupled with the noun liber, i.e. book, or the homophonous adjective, i.e. free. So, free books in the Dharma. This is our hope.
What pushes us to publish nowadays? First of all, it is imperative to recognize that we live in a world where the time devoted to reading is being continuously eroded. At the very least, reading requires the ability to concentrate and free time. Our books come to life in a complex current reality that is pervaded, in all of its nooks and crannies and in all time breaks, by overpowering technology, where it is hard to find long spaces where your attention can be focused uninterruptedly. Also, looking specifically at the spiritual literature, it is really well represented in the Italian book universe where there is no shortage of publishers doing an excellent job at disseminating books that can help those who are on a soul-searching path. Is then ours a typical “mission impossible”? Maybe not. In fact, we want to prove that, if our motivation is clear and we can work with the awareness, care, focus, professionalism, curiosity, intelligence, intellectual honesty and creativity that books in our domain require, then the readers who shall follow us in this adventure will make their life (and way) long and healthy. Whatever happens, it shall still be wonderful to contribute to bringing the invaluable gift of the Buddha’s teachings to passionate investigators.
Ubiliber’s publishing activity started in May with two important books, i.e. a new translation of the Dhammapada and Chiamami con i miei veri nomi (Call me by my true names), the only collection of poems by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
It is exciting to launch our publishing company with one of the most important and beloved texts of the Buddhist Canon, i.e. the Dhammapada. This is an ancient, but extremely modern, poem useful to both readers who have no knowledge of Buddhism and the most experienced meditators who have always recognized its invaluable depth and breath as guidance. The core of the work is the teaching of ethics by extolling virtue and abandoning unhealthy behaviors. The verses are deep and poetic, capable of guiding the reader, with the typical Buddhist kindness and lack of dogmatism, towards a higher moral sensitivity and spiritual serenity. In addition to a new Italian version edited by Professor Francesco Sferra, this edition features an English translation and, as a tribute to the more than century-long journey that this poem has made in our culture, the Latin version made in the 1900’s by the Danish scholar Viggo Fausbøll, which marked the first appearance of the Dhammapada in a Western language. Finally, the transliteration of the Pali language is a further instrument for savoring the origin of this must-read concentrated blend of wisdom.
Chiamami con i miei veri nomi (Call me by my true names), is one of the most intimate works by Thich Nhat Hanh. Once again, the famous Zen Master successfully acts like a bridge between art and religion, lyric poetry and philosophy, daily reality and ultimate reality. Resting on a subtle plot made of Buddhist doctrine, his poems reflect the world we live in and they powerfully gush out a deep compassion that permeates each and every word of this work.
The desire to publish books in a world that is increasingly more dependent on frenzy activities that stimulate our instant reactions is unquestionably a challenge. We are addressing it with gratitude, aware that, as an ancient say goes, even a single hair has its shadow. On these pages, as well as through the newsletter that you can register for on our website, we shall regularly keep you up-to-date on our activities and we reiterate our desire to feel, also thanks to the dialogue that shall develop, the needs of the readership who will want to follow us with passionate curiosity.
Hoping to be up to the challenge that we have decided to take up, we wish that this short letter shall make you dance wildly with joy as we have been doing for a few months now, or at least smile because, whatever happens, we know that each and every new book, especially concerning the Dharma, is a new journey and often times a wonderful one.
To be continued…
Delighted to meet you,
Emanuele Basile and Francesca Arengi