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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Plan B Press New Year's Resolutions (i.e.: Goals for 2009)

Trite, I know, but it's that time of year to be heavy on the lists. Perhaps I'll do a year-end highlight list too. I'm crazy like that.

So, here it goes, my Plan B Press resolutions for 2009, in no particular order.

1) Encourage poets submitting manuscripts to think visually and be creatively daring. Anyone can technically make a chapbook. Let's encourage Katy to use her BFA, folks. It's for your benefit. No one wants to buy an ugly (or even ho-hum) book.
2) Become a full-fledged business. (ya hear me, Steve?)
3) Increase book sales and pump up our publicity machine,...once we find it. I think it's in the couch cushions or something. I haven't seen it for months.
4) Update the blog at LEAST bi-weekly. Daily is a goal, but with two kids, it's not realistic; and this list is long as it is.
5) Get our books in more bookstores. Are there bookstores that still carry chapbooks? Anyone?
6) Organize more readings/events for our authors.
7) Print fewer titles each year, but print more copies and focus on distribution more.
8) Keep the website updated. Add a few more features to make it a place people want to go. Suggestions? Let us know.
9) Regain our original enthusiasm about being publishers. It's easy to get bogged down and frustrated with the daily problems and physical wounds (see finger-cutting). Why did we take on this business? Because we liked it.
10) Move back to Philadelphia. A girl can dream, can't she?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Christmas Weekend

Plan B Press staff spent the Christmas weekend in Pennsylvania with family and friends.

On Saturday we visited Center City and made a few business and social calls. One stop was to Robin's Bookstore (13th and Sansom) which as we mentioned in an earlier blog is closing as a bookstore and reopening on its second floor as an event space ( There are huge discounts on their inventory for those interested in stopping in.

The second floor is almost unrecognizable to me. There's now a stage constructed at the window and the office wall has been torn down. Black plastic sheeting was hung while we were visiting. It's very transitional. Unfortunately, Larry wasn't there at the time; so we couldn't chat with him, but we saw others that we knew and got caught up.

Our books are now officially and completely pulled from the shelves of Robin's (with the exception of a missing box of books sent earlier this year), so although there are still some chapbooks and full-length poetry books by other publishing companies still available there, our books are not. Wolfgang Books in Phoenixville is the only bookstore in southeastern PA that still carries our titles. Aside from that is our website with secure online buying:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Anthology: The Second Batch

aaaaaaand - they're out.
I printed, painted, bound and stapled the next batch of anthologies going out to our northeastern authors. Those should be mailed today. A nice after-Christmas treat.

I still have two international mailings and eleven midwestern and western mailings to go. I don't expect to get on that until the end of the holiday. I am actually going to devote the next lump of days to family and friends.

Francine Tolf's newest book "Like Saul" will be sent to the printer today. Once that gets back and I print the remainder of anthologies, I will let this year rest and face the Spring 2009 season.

So barring any new thoughts, epiphanies, or news, I will be back on Moonday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

line in the sand

this particular "line in the sand" has to do with the word 'publishing' in this modern universe of blogs, e-zines, and the Kindle. I happen to maintain that publishing has to do with ink on paper. In time this may become a minority view but as a publisher of actual physical objects that one can hold and page through called BOOKS, I will continue to maintain that publishing only counts when it's ink on paper.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


readers of distinctive works

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Progress on Tolf and the Anthology.. and Christmas Cards

This past weekend I was able to print a few more anthology guts. I plan on painting and pasting covers this weekend, then stapling and taping on Monday. We should be mailing off the second batch right before Christmas.

We have completed Francine Tolf's book, so that should go off to the printer once we rustle up a contract for her and get a quote from our printer.

Baby steps. Baby steps.

Meanwhile, on the home front, we created our Christmas card for our family and close friends. For the past few years we have tried to incorporate ourselves into cards. Last year we adapted the Beatle's Help album. The year prior we modified a 1950's Christmas card. We've also been gingerbread cookies and a snowcouple. This year it's... well, I'll let you know when they're done. I'm hand painting those as well. I'm a glutton for punishment it seems.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dan Maguire's Book Release

Dan Maguire's book just came back from the printer. We just put his book up on our website for sale and should be sending e-mails announcing the release in the next few days.

The book turned out really well. I'm picky, so I always notice things, but I'm happy with it. I'll post an image when I get the chance, perhaps tonight. In the meantime you can check it out on our website

Monday, December 15, 2008

Anyone can run a Press

I love Anais Nin's workshoes, she's a serious little worker bee.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Plan B Press Stomach Virus

Last Saturday, our littlest was hit with a stomach virus which he proceeded to share with the rest of us. It took until Thursday for all of us to fully recover.

So here we are again, back where we were on Friday Dec. 5th, basically.

I just made up a cover for Francine Tolf. I have no more anthologies made than I had prior, but it's on my to-do for Sunday... that is if I don't cut my finger open or get some sot of crippling illness. What is it with our weekends lately?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Anthology: The First Round Results

Our Philadelphia authors were the first to get their anthologies. Of the nine that we sent to, only two have written us- and both to complain. So, as we are printing these gradually, I can at least correct them for the future batches. But for those of you in Philadelphia with erred copies, please note:

1) in Jim Mancinelli's poem, the last stanza should be omitted; and
2) in Joyce Meyer's poem, the last stanza is missing. It should be:

from the earth’s rage. But alone
in the dark you watch the moon’s
cold face, the winking distant stars,
and wonder what the ancients
would have done to wrest a word
from the silent cosmos.

We're not trying to ruin anyone's chi. I hope this helps.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Own Book Purchase

The last book I purchased was a Little Golden Book for my kids: The Little Red Hen. There were other books on the rack, most of which have movie or TV tie-ins. This one was a reissue of a 1954 edition of this classic children's tale.

"Who will help me?" asked the little red hen.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Not I," said the goose.
"Not I," said the cat.
"Not I," said the pig.
"Then I will do it myself!" said the little red hen.

It's perfect for those of us who have had to deal with slackers at some point in our lives. Us puritans out there who are still bitter about someone's lazy attitude. Sure, it's not healthy to dwell, but the little red hen gets her revenge in the end, as we wish we did.

We are a company of two, so we don't deal much with slackerism. If there's a lazybones among us, we either agree to be lazy together or we try to rally the other person to work. We don't have enough employees to allow someone to endure, have fortitude, then get sweet revenge. I really wish I could pass the buck myself some times. "Not I," said the Creative Director... but then who will do it herself?

It's nice to call a business meeting over breakfast or make drastic decisions without a committee. But there's something to be said for a few little elves to help clean the shop. Can I just be the fishing cat for a while? Or the wooden sword-fighting duck?

"Who will lay out this book?"
"Who will update the website?"
"Who will assemble these books?!"

"Not I," said the Creative Director.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Robin's Bookstore - on the closing

Katy alluded yesterday to the fact that I worked at Robin's for a period of time, which technically was true, from 2002-2003. I was the poetry & special events coordinator, website manager, and poetry series host from April 2002 - Dec. 2003. I hosted and curated the Eternal NOW! series which concluded with the Now!(then) anthology of the series. That anthology was the forerunner of Larry's 100 poet anthologies since then. I/we did have a minor impact on some events at Robin's.

But I would suggest that others knew and were much more involved with Larry Robin and the bookstore and the Moonstone organization that I was. Eleanor Wilner, for example, came up with the idea of 100 poets readings in support of Robin's and created the first of those readings in 1996. She also sat on the board of Moonstone. Herschal Baron had been the poetry host at Robin's for decades prior to my arrival in the city. Lamont Steptoe was often in the store, set up at the round table near the poetry section or up in the offices.

Robin's has been an institution in Philadelphia. 73 years. Reaching back to another space in time. It's history has been colorful to say the least. Larry has run the bookstore for over 30 years and started the nonprofit organization, Moonstone, with his wife Sandy back in 1983. The organization helped to start and run the Moonstone pre-school. Larry also started the Black Writers festival which is now run by Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia. His footprint is deep in the city and his bookstore has been literally THOUSANDS of poets and writers come into its doors for readings and signings.

Considering the long history of the bookstore and the Moonstone organization, my time there was a few fleeting moments. Yet, I was glad for the opportunity and will relish the memories forever. I have to thank Larry for allowing me to present 'the Eternal NOW!' series since it brought me in contact with many of the Plan B Press poets that we have since published and after I ended the series there, the space was made available to me to begin the "Plan B Press presents..." experiments of group readings and readings with musicians and mulitmedia artists. Bookstore as art hothouse. It was a great time!

Larry also wrote a letter of recommendation which helped me to get into the Art Management program at George Mason University, thus securing our exit from the city. Now, if there were only a way back.....

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Robin's Bookstore - Philadelphia, PA

We just found out yesterday that Robin's Bookstore ( will be closing. There have been some rocky moments in Robin's history, but they've always managed to bounce back. I'm not sure what the nail in the coffin was, it could have been many nails really. All the same, we're sorry to see it go, or change (into a cultural salon/performance and discussion space) as the case may be.

Steve first became acquainted with Larry Robin in 2002 and soon after took up the poetry reading torch and carried it for 2 years or so. The eternal NOW poetry series introduced us to a lot of poets, some of whom we've published and some of whom have remained good friends. Robin's was a bookstore like none I have met. Yes, met. It wasn't just a place but a real sort of presence. The whole store was very worn in, the kind of cozy space that corporate bookstores try to emulate with varying degrees of failure.

Robin's Bookstore stocked chapbooks- a blessing for us; and one of the only stores that do. Robin's also had specialities, depending on Larry's interests: his African American section and Charles Bukowski corner were a strength. His fiction selection was interesting and independent. I also liked his kids' section for its variety and highlighted books. It was a small space, but he did alot with it.

Since Larry was extremely socially active, his events tended to be varied and interesting. Every night was something else and he was welcoming to new ideas. He started programs like Poetry Ink, the 100 Poets Reading, and the Black Writers Series that made a real impact on peoples' lives. His store was a Philadelphia institution. It was a given that we would probably see someone we knew when we stopped in. Sometimes Larry would be there and we would either chat in his office or go out for a cup of coffee or gelato.

There were odd moments too, don't get me wrong. At poetry readings the mic system would occasionally pick up WYSP radio. Larry had dogs where he lived above the store, and they would sometimes run from one end of the room to the next sounding like thunder over our heads. There were staffing problems too from time to time. And our books would get lost for months, then found again, so our inventory fluxed wildly for a while. It was an experience doing business with Larry.

Being away from Philadelphia, we miss quite alot as it happens, only finding out about things after the fact. I'm sure we will make a trek to see Larry before the store closes. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by and absorb what you can while it's still here. You won't meet another bookstore quite like that again. (visit Robin's Bookstore: 108 South 13th Street, between Sansom and Chestnut Streets)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Blood, Sweat and Tears

In assembling the anthology I knew that it would take not only money, but blood, sweat and tears. I had already achieved the tears after some frustrating weekends of misprinting and kid-interruption. Whereas I haven't actually sweat yet, I've put a great deal of effort into the books (by the end, each book takes about twenty minutes to a half hour to make). Now for the blood. For each book I take a 24"x40"-ish piece of 2-ply chip board and cut it down to the 5"x7"-ish format. It's thick stuff, this chip board. Well, I'm on my second board and I'm getting tired and ready to move on. Five minutes later the Xacto blade slips and - right into my finger, through my nail. Yow!
So we rounded up the kids, went to the emergency room. Three to four stitches and a handful of hours later and I'm painting covers. Each is hand painted and hand bound. We have completed nine for our Philadelphia contributors who should be getting them this week. We're taking it by region (midwest, international, new england, etc. ). I've been set back a bit by this whole wounded finger issue, but luckily I had some completed boards so I can work on them for awhile.

I knew at some point there'd be blood. It was just a matter of time.