The official weblog of the little-poetry-press-that-could, Plan B Press. Specializing in chapbooks, we have published of over 40 books from authors both local and international.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

joy of publishing (2)

One reason that Plan B Press works primarily with the chapbook format is that I find it both the most exciting and most experimental form of book creation that is available to a publisher trying to expand the visuality of a book. We happen to love what "book artists" do. What Tom Phillips accomplished with A HUMUMENT is just breathtaking. In fact, there is a coterie of artists who use the dimension of a book as their own canvas, and this greatly appeals to us.

Also, as chapbooks tend to record the beginnings of one's publishing careers, they also document a writer's development over time. It's one of the reasons I write chap*books, a blog in which I review, discuss, and sometimes merely mention chapbooks which might otherwise disappear as they are "little strands of nothing" when stacked alongside books with spines on shelves. If the chapbook lacks color, they are quite easy to overlook altogether on shelves in a bookstore, should a bookstore carry them at all.

It was only after moving to Virginia in 2004, as I was beginning my Master's program at George Mason University, that I began to think about writing about chapbooks. I found a lot of chapbooks by Robert Creeley on ebay and got them. Two of those chapbooks had been made by Toothpaste Press. Shortly thereafter, I got a gift of several chapbooks being purged from the Philadelphia Free library published by the Perishable Press Limited. What I found in these chapbooks was an attention to detail. The publisher of the Perishable Press made his own paper! That's pretty detail oriented.

By the time I began to write about chapbooks, Katy & I had been running the Press for about three years. We had published the stunning "Crazy Mary & Others" by Michele Belluomini, "In Deep" by Jim Mancinelli with a textural cover (one could actually feel something unlike glossy covered books), and Connie Boyle's visually stimulating "double exposure".

We believe that having an interesting cover is half the battle of getting ATTENTION from an overwhelmed public who is hyper-stimulated all the time. We are, in a sense, competing with electronic media bombardment and expensive publicity campaigns by much larger book publisher. As well as indifference and a shyness from poetry by the general public who have "little-to-no" experience and exposure to poetry. We face a daunting climb toward recognition and awareness. Acceptance would be nice as well, but we can't count our eggs before they are laid.

What's important is to be part of the literary flow which began with the cave drawings by early man and continues today. We publish to be part of the conversation of our times, to contribute to our collective consciousness, to our overall culture. We can't publish everyone, nor would we. We exercise this unique thing called "editorial control", there is an aesthetic that we are working toward - a look, a feel, a concept - that we hope can be felt through all the books we DO publish. Along with our ever moving running man logo.

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