Independent presses harangue.

The long version appears below; the short version is that all of that brouhaha around AMS and independent presses being hung out to dry is now officially hitting McSweeney’s pretty hard.  They are looking to generate some cash, fast, and so have cut prices on a lot of stuff.  Read the long version; the store is here; and we at Condalmo are pleased to recommend, eschewing any detail for a dirty realist approach, the following.

End of I. Bundle:  You cannot possibly go wrong with two fine Stephen Dixon books for $11.  Both of these books contain an ample supply of the aforementioned trademark zest.  If you cannot afford the $11 for two hardcover, very attractively packaged, very-well-written books, you may be spending too much on coffee; consider this link your $2 coupon.  Purchase immediately, buy this other stuff afterward.  (excerpt)

The Children’s Hospital – not on sale at all, but now would be a good time to buy this, if you haven’t.  Chris Adrian is incredibly talented.  (excerpt)

The Facts of Winter – I know nothing about this book, except that Darby would like you to read it, and he seems to have pretty good taste in books, which is good enough for me.  (excerpt)

The People of Paper – I do know something about this book; it’s great.  Excellent writing and some tricks with the text as well.  (excerpt)

Samuel Johnson is Indignant – I am just now realizing that this is a McSweeney’s title.  Lydia Davis is one of the most intelligent, linguistically rockin’ writers around. 

The Middle Stories – by Ticknor author Sheila Heti.  She’s Canadian.

They also offer t-shirts for the hip, posters, cards.

UPDATE: I’m posting other fine folks’ recommendations following the "long version" – below.


The long version:

As you may know, it’s been tough going for many independent publishers, McSweeney’s included, since our distributor filed for bankruptcy last December 29. We lost about $130,000 — actual earnings that were simply erased. Due to the intricacies of the settlement, the real hurt didn’t hit right away, but it’s hitting now. Like most small publishers, our business is basically a break-even proposition in the best of times, so there’s really no way to absorb a loss that big.

We are committed to getting through and past this difficult time, and we’re hoping you, the readers who have from the start made McSweeney’s possible, will help us.

Over the next week or so, we’ll be holding an inventory sell-off and rare-item auction, which we hope will make a dent in the losses we sustained. A few years ago, the indispensible comics publisher Fantagraphics, in similarly dire straits, held a similar sale, and it helped them greatly. We’re hoping to do the same.

So if you’ve had your eye on anything we’ve produced, now would be a great time to take the plunge. For the next week or so, subscriptions are $5 off, new books are 30 percent off, and all backlist is 50 percent off. Please check out the store and enjoy the astounding savings, while knowing every purchase will help dig us out of a big hole.

Many of our contributors have stepped up and given us original artwork and limited editions to auction off. We’ve got original artwork from Chris Ware, Marcel Dzama, David Byrne, and Tony Millionaire; a limited-edition music mix from Nick Hornby; rare early issues of the quarterly, direct from Sean Wilsey’s closet; and more. We’re even auctioning off Dave Eggers’s painting of George Bush as a double-amputee, from the cover of Issue 14.

This is the bulk of our groundbreaking business-saving plan: to continue to sell the things we’ve made, albeit at a greatly accelerated pace for a brief period of time. We are not business masterminds, but we are optimistic that this will work. If you’ve liked what we’ve done up to now, this is the time to ensure we’ll be able to keep on doing more.

Plenty of excellent presses are in similar straits these days; two top-notch peers of ours, Soft Skull and Counterpoint, were just acquired by Winton, Shoemaker & Co. in the last few weeks. It’s an unsteady time for everybody, and we know we don’t have any special claim to your book-buying budget. We owe all of you a lot for everything you’ve allowed us to do over the last nine years, for all the time and freedom we’ve been given.

Once this calamity is averted, we’ll get back to our bread and butter — the now-legendary Believer music issue is already creeping into mailboxes everywhere; Issue 24 of our quarterly is in the midst of a really pretty silkscreening process; and in July the fourth issue of Wholphin, our DVD magazine, will slip over the border from Canada, bringing with it some very good footage of Maggie Gyllenhaal and a Moroccan drummer who messes up a wedding in an entertaining way. And then a couple of months after that, we’ll publish a debut novel from a writer named Millard Kaufman. This book is exactly the kind of thing McSweeney’s was created to do: The novel came through the mail, without an agent’s imprimatur, and it was written by a first-time novelist. This first-time novelist is ninety years old. It was pulled from the submissions pile and it knocked the socks off of everyone who read it. Millard may well be the best extant epic-comedic writer of his generation, and he stands at equal height with the best of several generations since.

Whatever you can do to help in the coming days, we thank you a thousand times. We’ll keep updating everybody on how this is going over the next few weeks; for now, pick up a few things for yourself, your friends, for Barack Obama. More news soon — thanks for reading.

Yours warmly,
The folks at McSweeney’s




From McSweeney’s, Tingle Alley recommends picking up Yannick Murphy’s Here They Come (I nominated this book for the LBC last spring; discussion here — note the pretty pony on the cover, which makes it a great gift for a post-Black Beauty reader), Dustin Long’s Icelander, Lawrence Weschler’s Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences, Harry Stephen Keeler’s The Riddle of the Traveling Skull, and Chris Adrian’s The Children’s Hospital (not on sale but what the hell, go for it). You can also pick up a copy of Salvador Plascencia’s People of Paper right now for less than the paperback.

From Soft Skull, Tingle Alley suggests anything by Lydia Millet (particularly Oh Pure and Radiant Heart), Douglas A. Martin’s Branwell, Matthew Sharpe’s Jamestown (an LBC nomination this time around), and Jenny Davidson’s Heredity. Outside of fiction, you may also want to cruise Lisa Carver’s Drugs Are Nice: A Post-Punk Memoir (unfortunately, the collected Rollerderby looks to be no longer available) . There’s lots of good stuff here — take a look around.


The Mumpsimus:

The auction:

(More items will be added throughout the week at the auction. And there are others that I’m too lazy to link to. I don’t really know what you’ll most love, so you should just check out the whole thing yourself.)

From the store:

…Soft Skull Press is also having a "Keep-the-lights-on-at-Soft-Skull-sale". 40% off until June 30. That means you can get…

That’s a tiny sample, and only from the fiction — there are many, many more titles in all sorts of different categories.


2 Replies to “Independent presses harangue.”

  1. The Facts of Winter is a marvelous book — I meant to put it on my list, but somehow missed the link. Anyway, it’s a collection of dreams from people in Paris on one day in the 19th century. It’s beautiful and weird (which for me equals perfect).

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