Category Archives: Our Publishers

Colleen Dunn Bates celebrates 10 years of Prospect Park Books

Looking for a small press that focuses on authors outside the mainstream? Look no further than Prospect Park Books, based in Pasadena, California. Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, Prospect Park Books’ founder, publisher, and editor Colleen Dunn Bates writes about her experience and doles out some sound wisdom for Literary Hub in a post published November 8th.

The long game aspect of the business frustrated Bates, but has given her a new understanding of publishing and patience, especially the accompanying learning curve: “It takes years to build a backlist, to find and build relationships with talented authors, designers, and staff, and to learn how to make budgets and forecast sales with at least a shred of realism.” However, the love of books and authors drives Prospect Park to keep publishing truly remarkable books.

“We never would have had our #1 bestseller, the debut novel Helen of Pasadena, if I hadn’t said, impetuously, passionately, and (at the time) foolishly, ‘What the hell, let’s go for it!'” Helen of Pasadena follows a wife and mother from (you guessed it) Pasadena whose life changes when her cheating husband gets killed by a parade float. Prospect Park has also fostered a relationship with author Michelle Brafman. author of Bertrand Court and Washing the DeadBertrand Court gives a close-up view of life in a suburban cul-de-sac, while Washing the Dead  deals with a woman confronting her family’s past after her mother’s death. Says the Washington City Paper about Bertrand Court: “Subtle and convincing… Brafman’s book works best in the way these characters interconnect from story to story, maintaining the reader’s interest as a novel should.”

Prospect Park publishes fiction as well as gift and cookbooks; Little Flower Baking  is a perfect example of one of their excellent cookbooks, a baking cookbook that won the Southern California Independent Bookseller Award for Best Nonfiction and has Leite’s Culinaria raving about the plum crumble pie, “a mutant combo in the best possible way.” This is a great gift for the holidays!lfbaking_cover_small

What final piece of advice does Bates give about the small press world? “Every book is our baby, every author is our family member, and there will never be enough hours or dollars to do everything possible to make it succeed. But we try anyway. Because we cannot imagine doing anything else.”

Indeed.

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Foreword Reviews Celebrates 15 Years of Radical Publishing from Haymarket Books

9781608463954“Socialism is not a dirty word anymore and we’re happy to be a socialist publisher,” says Haymarket editor Julie Fain.

Over the last fifteen years, Haymarket Books has seen the tides of political thinking change, beginning in an era where a hint of socialism would instantly ignite rage and fear, to our current election cycle with Bernie Sanders unapologetically running for the Presidential nomination as a Demo9781608465644cratic Socialist. On July 7, Foreword Reviews to talk about Haymarket’s work over the last fifteen years, and where they’re going.

Haymarket has seen a surge of interest as progressive movements have gained momentum in the U.S. “People are more open to radical politics, questions of race and gender and criminal justice are on the table like they have never been at least in a generation,” says Fain.

“To publish at Haymarket, a book has to speak to people who are doing something to change society,” says Fain. Haymarket publishes all genres, from social theory to poetry, novels, and even children’s books.

Following their increase in s9781608465620ales, Haymarket is trying to intentionally direct their growth. One book playing a key role in their strategy is The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Fain says, “It’s a really great way of reaching young people, reaching a wider audience, reaching people who are doing important cultural work.”

Always speaking to the times, Haymarket has two titles that are hitting many required reading lists for Black Lives Matter: Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis and From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

9781608466191Looking ahead to more groundbreaking, question-posing titles, Haymarket has two books coming out by award-winning writer Arundhati Roy. Things that Can and Cannot Be Said, which she wrote in collaboration with John Cusack, documents their journey to meet Edward Snowden and the conversations that followed. It will be available starting October 4, 2016. Her collection of essays The End of Imagination will be available August 16, 2016, where for the first time ever, five of her books of essays will be bound together in one volume. We can’t wait to see these books on your shelves and in the streets.

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Coming to a Curbside Near You!

Curbside-splendor-Sq_LOGOIf you live in the Chicago area, you’ll soon be able to visit a brand new center of community and independent publishing, in the best form of all: a bookstore! This June, Curbside Splendor — a publisher of literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that has celebrated its Chicago roots since its inception in 2009 — is opening “Curbside Books and Records.”

The store was first announced in a Publishers Weekly article on May 24. While it will carry titles by Curbside Splendor (like Mickey, which HBO-TV/Girls star Lena Dunham recently touted in her online newsletter), it will also feature titles by indie publishers across the nation, as well as regional titles and records produced by independent labels. Curbside Splendor doesn’t produce music, but some of their titles do celebrate the rich entertainment history in Chicago, such as The Empty Bottle Chicago, which chronicles the famous venue’s 20+ year life through stories, photos, and ephemera.

Independent bookstore, independent publishers, independent labels—you may be sensing a theme here. The emphasis on independently-produced goods is entirely intentional. The goal, according to Curbside Splendor publisher Victor David Giron, is to expose people to new and exciting literature and music, to lift up voices and experiences that can get lost in chain bookstores and big business publishers.

The bookstore will be located inside a café in Revival Food Hall, a showcacover-draft-Chelsea9se for local chefs from 15 Chicago restaurants, which features communal seating and a wine bar that opens in the evenings. It’s not your average bookstore locale, and that was also an intentional choice.

“It won’t be a traditional bookstore,” Giron said. “The idea is that it’s going to fit into a larger communal space; it’s going to be part of this community center.”

Revival Food Hall is located near the famous Michigan Avenue, a commercial and cultural hotspot, as well as near several schools, including the School of the Chicago Art Institute, Columbia College, and Roosevelt University. In the future, Giron hopes to tap into the talent in MFA programs there to schedule programming and community events.

Is it July yet? We can’t wait! Congratulations, Curbside Splendor! Chicago is lucky to have you.

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Publishers Weekly Highlights the Limitless Language of NubeOcho

nubeochoWith advances in technology making it easy to communicate with people all around the world, the importance of learning a second language is often stressed young. Books are a crucial component in language learning, but where can you find good non-English-language reads that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to have shipped?

Enter NubeOcho.

On April 29, Publishers Weekly online featured six different international publishers who are bringing Spanish language books to an American market, including NubeOcho.

NubeOcho was founded in 2012 in Madrid, with an international focus from the very beginning. Their mission is to publish picture books that deal with topics relevant to kids all around the world, such as diversity, inclusion, and competitiveness. Through reading, NubeOcho believes, children can learn to navigate their way through new experiences and know that they’re never alone. As editorial director Luis Amavisca told Publishers Weekly, the “books promote respectful attitudes towards all types of diversity. . . [in] a playful medium that makes it easier to engage.”

With such universal themes, it’s only natural for NubeOcho to distribute their books internationally. Most of NubeOcho’s books are published in Spanish, but, to make them more accessible, the publisher decided to use the more common Latin American Spanish instead of Spaniard Spanish. A few of their titles are bilingual (including Princess Li/La Princesa Li), and many of them are translated into English in addition to their Spanish editions.

There’s no fear here of any of the whimsical magic of NubeOcho’s books being lost in translation. Accolades for the vibrant picture books have been rolling in from internagalinostional and U.S. trade publications. One of the most popular titles from 2016 is The Galinos (or, in Spanish, Los Galinos), the story of a group of aliens from the planet Gala who learn the consequences of taking Mother Nature for granted. The May 1 issue of School Library Journal raved that The Galinos was “an environmentally conscious and thought-provoking story.” On April 1, Kirkus Reviews highlighted another of NubeOcho’s spring 2016 titles, Carlota Wouldn’t Say Boo, saying that “the whimsical, tongue-in-cheek narration asks readers questions . . . and adds little asides . . . making readers feel the story is being told just to them.”

Transcending boundaries to reach out to one and all – isn’t that what publishing is all about? Bravo, NubeOcho!

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Flying Eye, Flying High: What to Look Forward to From Nobrow Press in 2016

nobrowlogoOn April 19, 100 Scope Notes, a School Library Journal blog which highlights the latest and the greatest in children’s literature, interviewed Tucker Stone of Nobrow Press and its children’s book imprint, Flying Eye Books. They talked about shaving beards, smartmouth mice, and, of course, books, giving us a preview of all of the excitement we can look forward to from Flying Eye Books in 2016!

Since its creation in 2013, Flying Eye Books has proved to be a force to be reckoned with: racking up starred reviews, bestsellers, and awards (including two nominations in 2016 alone for the Eisner Awards) for its authors and illustrators alike, and the 2016 titles look to be no different. While, as a self-defined “visual publishing house,” Flying Eye is known for its stunning visuals that appeal to readers of all ages, they also gravitate towards producing works with important messages. The message of this season? Empathy and compassion.

“The world feels like a difficult place to live in right now,” Stone said, “and we have to find a way to share the space.”

Francesca Sanna’s The Journey, which publishes Septembjourneyer 13, is just one of Flying Eye’s titles this season which represents that timely drive.

“It’s a picture book for young children about a family of refugees abandoning their homeland due to the war that, among other things, takes their father. It’s particularly inspired by the experience of Syrian refugees, but also incorporates the journeys that have had to be undertaken by the people of Somalia, Tibet and Eritrea,” Stone said. “I can’t imagine anyone walking away from this book without being stirred up by it.”

hilda and the stoneThis year is also one of what Stone called “triumphant returns,” including new books from the beloved Hilda and Professor Astro Cat series (Hilda and the Stone Forest and Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure, respectively); exciting additions to their nonfiction animal books (including Wild Animals of the North and One Day on Our Blue Planet… In the Antarctic); and a gorgeous new title from William Grill (The Wolves of Currumpaw), winner of the 2015 Kate Greenaway Medal (for illustration). In 2016, Flying Eye Books will also be reissuing some beloved children’s titles from the 1950s and 1960s, such as Helen Borten’s Do You See What I See? and Do You Hear What I Hear?.

Whether you’re a nonfiction aficionado or a regular comic book fiend, both Nobrow Press and Flying Eye Books are sure to have something for you this season!

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The FADER Sees the Fearlessness of Koyama Press

KoyamaPressWe’ve written about Annie Koyama before: about the playful and innovative comics she publishes at Koyama Press, about her unusual entrance into the world of publishing, even about her quirky bookshelf. But we just can’t get enough. Her story is so inspiring that notable music magazine the FADER branched out from its usual subject matter to interview Koyama on April 29.

The article opens with the accurate claim that Koyama Press’s origin story “could easily be the plot of one of the poignant autobiographical comics it publishes”: Annie Koyama, whose background is in film production, started the press on a whim after undergoing major brain surgery for a terminal aneurysm in 2007. The life-saving surgery spurred Koyama to delve into something she felt truly passionate about, so she began funding Toronto artists’ comics, publishing them, and taking none of the profits in return. Her generous spirit allowed little-known cartoonists, who were frequently snubbed by larger publishers, the validation and exposure she felt they deserved. As the FADER puts it, “her commitment to taking risks on emerging artists reflected an ongoing paradigm shift affecting the way alternative comics are produced and consumed,” and as a result, Koyama Press has become “one of the most important forces in independent comics” around today.

Even though Koyama is currently living with a second, inoperable brain aneurysm, she continues to push forward with Koyama Press and remains committed to diversity. As she9781927668276 told the FADER, “we live in a multicultural society and we need more artists telling their stories well—from every background.” She laments that finding a vast audience for alternative comics is still “an uphill battle,” but some of the attention Koyamobscenitya Press has gotten lately should help. The A.V. Club provided an exclusive preview of upcoming Koyama titles Gorgeous and What Is Obscenity?. Check out the previews here and here, respectively. Both books come out on May 10, and they’re just a few of the many wonderful things we know are in store for Annie Koyama and her press in the future.

 

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Why Coffee House Press is the Best Literary Press in the Twin Cities

With the newscoffeehouselogo on April 20 that City Pages voted Coffee House Press the best literary press in the Twin Cities, we thought we’d take a look at some of the reasons this indie press is such a standout.

1. International reach: The literary community is recognizing Coffee House Press more and more for their commitment to publishing excellent works of literature in translation. Perhaps no Coffee House title has received more attention in this category than Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teethwhich is a finalist for Three Percent’s Best StoryOfMyTeethTranslated Book Award in fiction. One of two Mexican books on the shortlist, Teeth was translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney and is competing against nine other titles for the prestigious award. The winner will be announced on May 4, and we won’t be surprised if Luiselli takes home the prize — she already won the LA Times Book Award for fiction earlier in April! Teeth was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction, and was named one of the best books of 2015 by The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and numerous other outlets.

Upcoming works of translated fiction from Coffee House Press include Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldaña París (translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney) and Camanchaca by Diego Zúñiga (translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell).

2. National prestige: The Story of My Teeth is not the only Coffee House title making news lately. pretentiousnessDan Fox’s book-length essay Pretentiousness: Why It Matters is making waves in the media recently, and not just for its arresting title. Slate called the book “impressively broad in its exploration of its subject,” while The Millions praises it as a “bracing, lively, espresso shot of a book” — no Coffee House pun intended.

If you’re looking for something a little less, er, pretentious, hpreludeow about a book recommended by Lena Dunham? In January, the Girls actress and avid reader endorsed Saeed Jones’s poetry collection Prelude to Bruise on her feminist newsletter/blog, Lenny Letter.

3. Local involvement: Nationwide recognition does not mean the folks at Coffee House Press have forgotten their roots. The press remains committed to community involvement in the Twin Cities through their Books in Action series, which puts on interactive events for the public that combine literature and art to engage and inspire readers and writers alike. One exciting aspect of this series is a library residency program called CHP in the Stacks, which, according to the program’s Tumblr page, “aims to create a body of work that will inspire a broader public to engage with their local libraries in a new and meaningful way, and to encourage artists and the general public to think about libraries as creative spaces.” Current CHP in the Stacks resident Steven Lang was interviewed by the Twin Cities PBS program Minnesota Original on April 8. You can watch the video here.

With all the impressive work they’re doing on the international, national, and local levels simultaneously, it’s no wonder City Pages praised Coffee House for “[nurturing] the local literary scene as much as it dazzles on a national scale.” Congratulations Coffee House, and keep up the good work!

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