Contented Reader

just point me toward the nearest library

Improve your life: adopt a publisher

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A little more than a year ago, I very deliberately reviewed the web sites and catalogs and reviews for various small presses, with a goal in mind: to choose one, and adopt it as the subject of a pleasant little obsession.  My scheme succeeded brilliantly.

I chose Small Beer Press, in part on the strength of the Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet anthology, which I had picked up at the public library and been fascinated by.  In the course of the last year, I have bought every single book in Small Beer’s backlist (many of them I got cheaply via Amazon’s used-book service), and made a point of ordering each new book directly from the publisher as they were released.  I’ve reviewed the books on Goodreads, pimped them on Facebook, and on a few occasions corresponded with the great and powerful Gavin Grant himself.

Of course it’s always a pleasure to be well-read, and to keep up with the latest good books.  But I’ve found a special pleasure in adopting a specific small press to love.

First, of, course, there are the books.  I chose a publisher whose editors have tastes similar to my own, and so I feel little hesitation in ordering new books from unfamiliar authors, confident that I will at least like them.  And, oh, how that has paid off for me.  I’ve discovered writers I would not have otherwise heard of, who I now nurse serious literary crushes on.  Elizabeth Hand, Kelley Eskridge, Kelly Link, Kathe Koja, Karen Lord, my heart is yours.

Second, there’s the feeling of connection, of community.  There’s the pleasure of feeling I’m doing something concrete for the field.  I’m sending my money to people I want to see do well.  I’m emotionally invested in their successes.  I rejoice when a Small Beer book gets nominated for an award, or gets a glowing review from some prominent reviewer.  I go looking for my favorite authors in other places, and find threads of interest to follow in many directions.  The world of books is a spiderweb of connections that is a pleasure to trace.

I am glad I decided to take a personal interest in one small press.  I’m very glad I chose Small Beer, a fabulous publisher, but there are other fabulous publishers that might be aligned with your own interests and tastes.  I feel connected to the mysterious world that books come from in a richer, deeper way than I did before.  Maybe you should adopt a small press, too.  There’s a long list of possibilities at Wikipedia for you to explore.

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Written by Contented Reader

July 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Posted in Opinions

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