In a partnership with file-transfer service WeTransfer, Penguin Books (UK) has made a series of rather nice desktop wallpapers available. The photographs feature book covers from their Street Art series, as well as recent designs by Jon Gray and Nathan Burton. Click on the images for the hi-res versions:
Any day of the week you can see that the big publishers are publishing some great books… But I think sometimes the context they’re working in involves the wrong kind of economic stress—or at least, a focus on economics and commerce that is not always conducive to interesting literary dialogue, or finding the new things that are happening at the edges of the literary culture. A very big publisher is unlikely to publish poetry unless the poets have already proven themselves—made it. And they are unlikely to go anywhere near essays, or hybrid books that fall between genres or play with conventions. Translation. Short stories. Criticism. We’re able to publish all these things, but someone who is required to hit X financial target each year is unlikely to go anywhere near those areas of literature…
There are dozens of obstacles to any given book succeeding. If a book succeeds it always does so against the odds. The odds in one generation might relate to the fact that people would rather be watching television than reading your book. The odds in the next generation might be that they’d rather be on their computer than reading your book. Once it was that people would rather be riding a bicycle than reading your book. It doesn’t do any good to be talking, as an author or publisher, about the obstacles. There are better uses of energy, I think. Yes, we can all feel helpless and wary in this industry sometimes, but it’s better, as a publisher, to look at the ways in which e-books and Twitter and so on can help us reach new readers, rather than treating social media as an enemy to literature.
The Empathy Exams has already gone through five print runs, and a sixth print run of 10,000 copies has been scheduled, bringing the total number of copies in print to 25,500.
Graywolf, the small literary press in Minneapolis that published The Empathy Exams, is no stranger to media attention, having published books that have won National Book Awards and Pulitzer Prizes. While the publisher expected that the collection, which won the 2011 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize on the basis of a partial manuscript, would receive positive media attention, it is still a bit taken aback at the degree of acclaim. The buzz began months ago, when the key independent booksellers who received early galleys started talking it up on social media and recommending it to their colleagues. The bookseller chatter picked up steam at Winter Institute, which Jamison attended. It has continued through this past month, when Jamison launched her book tour at Yale University in New Haven, where she is pursuing a Ph.D in literature, followed by a more formal launch at Common Good Books in St. Paul, Minn. She has been speaking before standing-room-only crowds at indies around the country since then.
(Disclosure: Graywolf Press are distributed in Canada by my employer Raincoast Books)Graywolf and the Art of Independent Publishing At Guernica Magazine, Jonathan Lee interviews Fiona McCrae, the publisher at American independent press Graywolf…