“Reading is sexy” isn’t often heard, especially in today’s modern age of celebrity gossip and mind-numbing television programming, but thanks to the efforts of small presses and the luminous work they produce, reading poetry and literature is getting sexy. In “Connections,” a podcast put out by WXXI Public Radio in Rochester, NY, in celebration of their summer book week, two CBSD publishers, Peter Connors of BOA Editions and Chad Post of Open Letter Books, sit down and discuss their publishing philosophy and how small presses fit into the larger industry and the future of publishing. Though Rochester is not widely considered to be a literary hub, these local editors and publishers show how small presses can make a big difference in the publishing world and perpetuate the idea that “people who read are sexy.”
Both publishers aim to produce quality, honest, and enriching work, while providing authors with a home in which they can flourish and expand. Post focused on how the works of translation that Open Letter Books publishes fit into the larger scheme of publishing. Even though three percent of all published works are works in translation, Open Letter Books is a key player in this number and is working on increasing the statistic to provide more English readers with works of literature from around the world.
Peter Connors passionately stated “without small presses, these writers have nowhere to go… presses are where the art is.” While there are misconceptions surrounding the profitability of small and non-profit presses, Chad Post argued that if attention is paid to the balance between grants, donations, and sales, small presses with a focus towards the art of the written word can be just as profitable as larger organizations. Amidst the wails that publishing is dying, BOA Editions and Open Letter Books illustrate just how successful and important small presses are, as they give authors a home and consumers smart works of literature and poetry that not only entertain, but also, according to these publishers, increase sex appeal.