Amidst cries that publishing is a dying industry, small houses like Coffee House Press are searching for new ways to evolve and grow in the changing field. Specifically, Coffee House Press is illustrating that publishing is in fact not dying, and can, in fact, be a powerful tool. On September 2, 2015, Euan Kerr for MPR News talked with publisher Chris Fischbach of Coffee House Press about the press’ new endeavors and how they are “shaking up publishing” with innovative programming and a new imprint.
Coffee House Press is a small non-profit and independent press that releases roughly 18 titles per year, ranging from fiction to poetry. As Fischbach said in the interview, they “connect readers and writers,” using publishing as a tool to promote the arts while also constantly searching for “different kinds of programming” to increase readership and promote authors works. For example, they developed a residency program called In The Stacks that places writers in various locations – such as libraries – to engage with their readers and create innovative work. Coffee House Press was also recently involved in the Walker Art Center’s annual Internet Cat Video Festival, wooing the crowds with the new title Cat Is Art Spelled Wrong. Fischbach said that the press strives to release books and create different programs that merge disciplines and “cross boundaries of race, culture, [and] form.”
One of Coffee House’s new ventures comes in the form of creating an imprint in partnership with Emily Brooks, a “feminist publishing project” located in Brooklyn. In a statement about the partnership, Coffee House Press explained that Emily Brooks is a “hybrid book club/bookstore/publisher” that delivers a handpicked books to subscribers once a month. As Fischbach said in the interview, both publishing entities are striving to create original works that “speak to the aesthetic excellence, experimental boldness, and social concerns of both organizations.” Coffee House Press refuses to listen when people say publishing is dying, instead focusing on pushing the boundaries of the industry to create something fresh and exciting.
If you want to connect with Coffee House Press in person and give them your support, be sure to stop by Housequake on September 21, 2015 at the Fulton Tap room, where they will be celebrating their fall releases as well as Chris Fischbach’s twenty years with Coffee House and his rise from intern to publisher.