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The APRIL Bookfest: Independent Presses Delight!

By | Learning How to Be a Publisher

Books from APRIL Book Expo

 

Since we only have one book out, it made little sense to take a table at the APRIL Book Expo which happened at Hugo House this past weekend.  I went on a book buying binge that was so different than being a reader on a jag, because for the last six months, ninety percent of the books coming into the house, spilling on the office floor in precarious stacks have been picked out due to the production and design, not the writing.

All four of our books this year have involved a discussion with our printer, Olympus Press, and someone else’s book. “We want our book to be like this.” or “What paper are they using?” or “How did they afford to produce this…Look how lovely it is!”  I suppose it’s not every business that can claim such delightful research shopping.

Here are the books and presses that inspired us to try harder to put out interesting and lovely books:

Chin Music Press: Seattle represent!!   Our third book, Tiny Girl, will share some similarities to their book, Hurricane Story by Jennifer Shaw. It will be the same square format and size and we’ll be showing it to the printer to see about offset on uncoated paper. Will we have a big enough run to make this possible? These folks are putting out really lovely and good-looking books.

Two Plum Press hurts our head with it’s aesthetic and smarts. We bought One Whole Breath by Zoe Donnelycolt, and This by Rebekah Green and once we’re through reading these, will be going online or to Portland to get more.  The size and paper of these books is so interesting! Dense little books with interesting typesetting, graphics and art. I’m not a huge fan of the dust jackets though which make holding and picking up the book more clumsy than it needs to be, still, I get the lo-fi and consistent appeal of them. This is a press I am very much looking forward to buying more books from to read deeply in.

Ravenna Press. We picked up three that had something other than poetry happening in them. By Land by John Burgess includes sketches and photos from his trip on the Lewis and Clark Trail, Jeff Alessandrelli’s Erik Satie Watusies his way into Sound includes music notation, like our fall book, The After. Kristina Marie Darling’s Melancholia has interesting layout and typesetting choices.

I picked up only one book by YesYes Books, A New Language for Falling Out of Love by Meghan Privitello. What a cover! I was really stuck by the use of the gray paper inside and strong type choices. Just a very handsome book.

Yet another Portland Press, Sidebrow Books: I couldn’t resist The Wine-Dark Sea by Mathais Svalina. Here’s a book where the bright white guts look great against the type and again, an incredible cover. For a rainy camping weekend, I’m looking forward to the The Volta Book of Poets, which, with my new set of publisher eyes, something we’d likely never do and also, so difficult— too many poets! Anthology work must be much herding of cats! These folks have some really great covers.

One publisher we chatted with, Alice Blue Books, is getting out of the business and sounded exhausted after ten years of publishing. From them, I picked up The Tahrir of Poems: Seven Contemporary Egyptian Poets, translated by Maged Zaher.  And there’s the power of the small press! It’s hard to imagine a big press taking on such a project. And it makes me more excited to try to get our first bi-lingual edition out!

We also had the opportunity to buy a first book by a new publisher, so fresh they’ve only had it four days! Fog Machine‘s first book, Celeris by Emily O’Neill, feels great and we always like true pocket-sized books for poetry!

In addition, we were delighted in the ideas of Mary Anne Carter to focus just on poetry ephemera as jesusmaryannejoesph, and picked up a delightfully strange glittery, “Square” by James Gendron. I have some ideas for ephemera that we’d like to try, not only as additional marketing pieces for our books and events, but also some stand-alone work, much like some of the Miel Books micro-books we’ve bought

My husband and I could also not resist the very graphic sexy times of Northwest Press‘s, “Al-Queda’s Super Secret Weapon”, a very saucy comic book. Saucy comics! Yea! Plus they print one of our comic heroes, David Kelley!

Now, what I really need is to get another trip set up to a warm tropical destination, an extra suitcase to lug all these books, and some time to read them.