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.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Something we aren't (a POD)

Someone sent me an article from a recent Time magazine on this subject and here's a similar article from the New York Times both dealing with the multilayered subjects of self-publishing, audience development, distribution, publicity, etc. The whole range of issues that is connected to "Print-On-Demand" publishing. I will state again, I am not for it. Never have been. It's vanity press publishing - all done electronically, like that makes a difference.

It doesn't. I was reading something in a book over the past year and wrote a note to myself which said "just because someone has published a book doesn't mean they should, nor does it obligate people to read it". And THAT truth is not much discussed when reporters write about this "brave new world" of publishing. Publishing crap doesn't make the thing smell better nor somehow make it readable when it may clearly may not be. There's this weird little concept I truly believe in called "EDITORIAL CONTROL". Silly me, I thought part of the job of a publisher was to weed out junk. To prevent garbage from being published. Wow, geesh, that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

To what end? More garbage that no one wants to read - or doesn't have time to read - on top of the mountain of books published each year by established publishing companies, and mid-level, hello people, there's a GLUT of books out there and only so many hours in a day to read....we can not live on reading alone. People need to work at jobs to afford to buy these books, or e-books, and if we continue to publish complete garbage simply because WE CAN that isn't going to lead to more readers, but fewer. People will continue to cut back on their reading to watch TV or play video-games, or watch films in surround sound in their living rooms. We are affecting our own demise. There is no one to blame for this glut of garbage than the publishers or self-publishers of said garbage.

Plan B Press has always been careful about our numbers, our authors, and our books. We are mindful that books of poetry, and that's most of what we publish, is not a necessity. It might be food for the soul but it doesn't compare with the sagging economy and the endless purging of jobs that is happening in the United States right now. Besides, we like our running man icon enough to want only a certain aesthetic or quality to be associated with it. Again, silly us, how can we possibly survive? Well, it's important to have principles and to stick to them. Have fewer books come out each season instead of just pumping out material, if you will, because that's "how it's done". Yeah, that's been how it has been done and the companies that have done that since the 1920's and 1930's are the same ones that are dumping employees and cutting back on the number of books that they are buying these days. The model of "how things work" doesn't work. But, I would and do argue, that doesn't mean that PODs are the answer.

One thing that supporters of POD publishing don't discuss is the imperfect quality of each book. I have seen enough POD books to know that they all look alike. They are produced, by machine, with little to no human oversight. They are stylistically laid out the same, same paper stock, same bar code inside the last page. It's an elaborate cookie cutter technology applied to publishing. Since the books are published after or at the point of sale, there is no guaranteed that any two books will look identical. YES, it avoids closets full of unsold books. Indeed so. But those unsold books in a closet printed by humans are at least printed at the same time and using the same paperstock and are, well, identical.

As a publisher who has been fortunate enough to have worked with the same printers for a half dozen years, I know their operation. I know the limitations of their equipment. I know what they CAN do. They make suggestions about problems we present to them and because each of our 'projects' are unique, we are always presenting them with problems. See, we want each book that we publish to be special, unique, and well, 'novel'. A machine can only do so much, it's programmable to do X or Y. That's how I can spot a POD so quickly. They look like a Print-on-Demand. (That's not a compliment, in case you are curious).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Old Season/New Season

As I complete the last anthologies for authors and plan to create the limited number of for-sale anthologies, we have begun reviewing manuscripts that have been sent in of late and we have selected a mere 2-3 for this spring. Submissions to our poetry chapbook contest are growing in number (yay!) but we still have another month to go. So Spring 2009 is looking good. When we decide on our spring selections we will post them and give updates on their progress.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

thoughts on a snowy day

john updike 1932-2009
My wife tasked me to write in the blog today, and I sat down uncertain what to write about - when I saw a breaking news story that John Updike died today at age 76.

Updike grew up about 12 miles from the town where I lived and I was keenly aware of him and his achievements since he was one of the most successful writers to emerge from Berks County, PA (along with Wallace Stevens who was also born in Reading, PA). In the heady lead up to the first Bardfest and the creation of Plan B Press back in 1999, one of the locations where poets met and read to each other was a used bookstore on the main street of Shillington, a shop called Tattered Pages. The owner of Tattered Pages has a small shrine to John Updike there by the counter with photos and many of his books in first edition Hard Bound. We would admire these books behind glass and then huddle to read our poems. Few if any mentioned John Updike at all in their work.

Like any number of artists who leave their birth town or community for success in the wider world, Shillington is where Updike was "from". In the same was the small community of Leola, PA is technically where Plan B Press is "from" as well. It was the initial heavy lifting by co-founder Dianne Miller that brought the idea of a press into the reality of this Press. The Press has evolved into a publisher of talent from across the country and parts of Europe.

Tattered Pages folded a few years ago, and now the subject of their worship has also moved into the reeds. Things change, life goes on. John Updike had written more than 50 books. PLUS all those stories in The New Yorker. He had an incredible output of work, and among them, it should be noted, was The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures (1958), which was of course a book of poetry. Updike began as a published poet!

Here's to your spirit, Mr. Updike, may the divine have a writing table ready for you upon arrival.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rhyme Repertoire

As my two year old daughter learns "I'm a little teapot short and stout. Here is my handle, here is my spout…" I encourage all poets out there to stretch yourselves beyond rhymes such as sad/mad, love/above, (word)-tion/(word)-tion.

Surprise us all!

Monday, January 19, 2009

freshly out - Like Saul by Francine Tolf

We are proud to announce the latest Plan B Press book, Like Saul, by Francine Tolf. The book is freshly out and available to the general public. Here's the link the webpage for her book Like Saul.

Thanks for your continuing support of Plan B Press!

NEXT UP: SPRING 2009 season!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Projects, Including the Contest

We have a number of new projects coming up in 2009. Often I am unaware of the books we are publishing until the manuscripts are handed to me to lay out for the printer. This can be tricky when the book has zero visuality and I'm asked to provide a creative angle to it. hmmmm.

So whereas know that we have 2-4 projects lined up for the Spring (on top of the contest) I really don't know what they are yet. If I did I would let you know.

How is that for an uninformative post?

I believe the Sandy Crimmins First Book Award will be pushed to the Fall. simply because we have not focused on the publicity for it yet and it deserves some real attention that can not be given when we are working on our annual chapbook contest.

Our winners are always pleased with the books we come up with. There have been some less than stellar experiences with winners simply because they didn't put faith in our ability to produce a nice book, but the end product proved them wrong. I don't understand why you would pay to enter a book contest if you didn't think the publisher would do a good job with your book, but I'm not an author so perhaps I just don't understand.

To those of you entering our contest, best f luck to you, give me something good, and -yes- we DO make beautiful books.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 poetry chapbook contest

In case you have missed this, the 2009 poetry chapbook contest is underway. The prize is $225.00 plus 50 copies. Our judge is Deborah Ager of 32 poems magazine. Deadline is March 1, 2009. Full details at

2009 chapbook contest

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Have a Facebook account? Become a fan of ours!!

We will start posting author events and book releases on our Plan B Press Facebook page in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Plan B Press on Facebook.

*cough* We're Back! *cough*

The Plan B Press crew has gotten collectively ill again. We rang in the new year with sniffles and hacking coughs. It is a cold that is fighting the good fight. Ten days later and it is JUST going away. So, as we slip back into our normal routine and collect ourselves up off the floor, we return to our usual scheduled programming.

I bring you the following updates:
1) Like Saul by Francine Tolf: is at the printer . Inside is printed, covers are being worked on now.

2) Dan Maguire's web page is up and running and his book is available. It is selling very well so far. We're not too surprised as it's a nice collection.

3) oh, anthology! The interiors are printed for all remaining poets (honest!) I've begun painting the covers. I plan to trim, staple, and bind the books this weekend. Perhaps after I get off line.