You just might have your favorite indie presses, but do you know their origin stories? Thanks to Literary Hub’s article on November 10, you can take a peek into the history of 21 presses, including Akashic Books, Coffee House Press, Copper Canyon Press, and Sarabande Books.
Akashic Books (eighteen years old) was originally an indie record label. As a change of pace, the three cofounders published Arthur Nersesian’s novel The Fuck-Up. It was extremely succesful—it sold through three print runs—and paved the way for future successes. Check out Go the Fuck to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes, another one of Akashic’s biggest sellers: “we seem to do very well when we have the word ‘fuck’ in our book titles,” said managing editor Johanna Ingalls.
Coffee House Press, (forty-four years old), was originally launched as Toothpaste Press after founder Alan Kornblum’s Toothpaste Magazine. The press’ first title, Tilt, was a mimeographed book and written by Kornblum’s pinball friend Dave Morice. For a recent Coffee House Press title, check out Upright Beasts by Lincoln Michel, a short story collection “full of monstrous surprises and eerie silences” according to Vanity Fair.
Copper Canyon Press (forty-two years old) first published Badlands, a poetry collection from Gerald Costanzo. The collected launched Copper Canyon Press and created their precedence of publishing extraordinary poetry. Check out Divinity School by Alicia Jo Rabins and C.D. Wright while you wait for Copper Canyon’s release of Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda, by Pablo Neruda and translated by Forrest Gander.
Sarabande Books (almost ten years old) published their first book in 1996, The Lord and the General Din of the World, by Jane Mead, which they found through their literary contest, the Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize. Publisher and founding editor Sarah Gorham said the book encompasses the press’ values: “the language was gorgeous and searingly honest. That fit nicely inside the idea of a Sarabande: elegant surface with a wild underside.” Read Smote by James Kimbrell for a taste of Sarabande Books’ current poetry aesthetic.