You might be wondering why the English-speaking world needs a new small press. Ampersand Press, after all, will be publishing under the same tough economic conditions as all other small presses; the times aren’t propitious for starting a new publication venture.
Or maybe not. Readers may have noticed all the talk about networking, marketing, targeted audiences, profits, associations, conferences, content, and so forth. They might also have wondered what happened to a reader’s best friend: the good story. And what about a well-designed, handsome book, in an easy-to-use format that’s appropriate to the story? Could this be the fabled Shangri-La, an untapped market?
Of course, as William Morris remarked, everyone has a different idea of what Utopia looks like. And certainly there are many fine books that tell a compelling tale. But Ampersand Press has a suspicion that when all is said and done, publishers are paying too much attention to the mechanics of their business. Certainly mechanics are important, as Ansel Adams knew when he was struggling on the side of a dusty road to make the negative that became Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. And publishers are keeping their eyes on such issues as plagiarism, copyright, libel and plain old costs with good reason.
What’s really important is the poet scribbling away in a transport of excitement, the novelist thrilled that she’s finally found her novel’s voice, the odd individual designing wallpaper patterns freehand over breakfast. There are some venues for these people, but not enough. Publishing is about community, and until we start seeing more unmarketable talent published, we are failing to get some of the most heartfelt writing in the community into print. And there is a lot of talent out there.
There’s a certain gotterdamerung quality to publishing: we will keep publishing until there *is* no money left. Maybe it has to be this way. Beauty is always a bit shy and tentative; the truth is always a suspect caller at the door. Despite the ocean of published material that is available in our society, Ampersand Press believes that an important part of America’s voice is not being heard. We’re here to do something about that.
And speaking of mechanics, our next post will have details on submissions and other nuts and bolts.