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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Money changed Poetry (magazine)

Poetry Magazine! There's a big story in Chicago Times about the new fortunes (not good but impressively new) of Poetry Magazine which got $200 MILLIONS dollars a decade ago. I don't generally read Poetry but have read about the largess that the Foundation and Magazine received with bemused interest.

What emerges, in my view, is a cautionary tale of what happens when wildest dreams come true. Not what anyone expected - that's the reality! There is so much money that the Foundation Board blew $21 MILLION dollars on new digs for the Magazine (and Foundation?) complete with a 125 seat theater. Nice, but aren't there still a few thousand needy poets starving on the streets of America? Can't help a fellow poet get a meal or a place to stay? That isn't in the new mandate or mission? But, $200,000,000.00 is a large sum of money for 26,000 paying Poetry magazine subscribers, isn't it? What ELSE are you planning to do with your windfall, Poetry Foundation, create a theme park?

I'm just sayin'

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What is the definition of a "Small Press"?

There is currently a good deal of buzz surrounding Go The F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Richardo Cortes. While I applaud their efforts and marvel at their impending success, I am nonetheless a bit put off by the notion in the media that the publisher, Akashic Books, is a “small press”. It depends how that term is defined. Compared to the handful of behemoth publishers in the world, certainly Akashic is “small”. At the same time, mostly overlooked in the glowing press about this book and its publisher, is the fact that Akashic was started with $70,000.00 in 2002. That’s right, SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!

Front-ended, at the beginning, 70K. Considering that many “small Presses” begin with an idea and/or a concept (and nothing else), $70,000.00 is a significant “leg-up” in the publishing world. I happened to have met the principle head of Akashic Books in 2003 at the Lehigh Valley Writers Conference and Johnny Temple came across as an earnest and thoughtful person, a nice enough guy. I am happy for the success of the Press, it gives hope for all “small presses” out there. At the same time, all things are not equal and having that much JUMP on the competition does place Akashic at the upper end of what is “small” in Press terms.

Again, compared to Random House, they are peanuts. Compared to Toothpaste Press or the perishable press limited, two “start up” presses from the 1970’s, Temple’s operation seems to have had an unfair advantage. However, the newsprint media tends to be lazy enough to not distinguish from a truly small press and one that is smaller than a BILLION dollar concern but much more “flush” than a Press that frequents Kinkos to print out their books.