Monthly Archives: February 2016

Fabled Films: A New Breed of Publisher

fabled films logoFabled Films is the brainchild of an age where publishing is no longer confined to ink and paper, but instead reaches out across a variety of media and platforms to create an interactive literary phenomenon. “We want to bring back the book as entertainment,” says founder Tracey Hecht, “to be enjoyed together in a social way, with families and with friends.”

While the Fabled Films creative team has its fair share of English and Creative Writing degrees, its staff is also home to animators, entrepreneurs, comedians, film directors, musicians, and children’s development and education specialists. Each book has its own lead author and illustrator, but all of Fabled Films’ titles are truly collaborative creative efforts, drawing on the brilliant range of skills its crew brings to the table.

Their first book, The Nocturnals: The Mysterious Abductions, will be published April 19, and is the first title in a ten-part series. Though it’s still a few months out from release, the Fabled Films team is already bringing the world of The Nocturnals to life. The series has its own website, which introduces you to the characters through an adorable series of animated shorts.

Young and old readers alike are invited to “Join the Brigade!”, an interactive fanclub where you can get your favorite stuffed animals their very own snakeskin capes.

The Nocturnals has been getting advance praise from booksellers and critics alike, from Kirkus Reviews to the staff at King’s English in Salt Lake City and Once Upon a time in Montrose, California, who said “The characters are charming and the story is well-crafted. . . . The Nocturnals will be enjoyed by kids who like intrigue, environmental issues and animals.” Even R. L. Stine (otherwise known as the bestselling author of the Goosebumps series) is in on the craze, raving that The Nocturnals is an enchanting story about a group of animals who band together to protect their friends and find adventure. The characters are delightful and the nighttime landscape is captivating. It was just as I expected—because the best stories always take place in the dark!”

Hecht firmly believes in the importance of the children’s and young adult genres, saying, “There’s something timeless about middle-grade stories. . . . I love that moment in life, that period when you’re not quite on your own but you’re not a kid either. It’s exciting and full of energy.”

Fabled Films also puts out a series of educational resources for all of their books, with specialized guides for language arts teachers, librarians, and booksellers.

No facet of the ever-evolving book world has been left unexplored by these literary pioneers, which begs the question, what will they do next? We can’t wait to see!

Eager to get your hands on The Nocturnals? Check out the first chapter here.

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In Celebration and Solidarity: A Black History Month Round-Up

Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, W. E. B. DuBois, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, and hundreds upon hundreds more. Throughout history, African American men and women have been pillars of both classic and contemporary literature, making us breathless and boundless with their revolutionary poetry and prose.

In a survey conducted by Publishers Weekly in 2014, it was revealed that 79% of those who work in the publishing industry were white. In 2012, Roxane Gay published an article disparaging the fact that 88% of books reviewed by the New York Times are written by white authors. In a world still reeling from police murders in Ferguson, New York City, and Minneapolis (among countless others), it becomes clear that we are very much still in the middle of a civil rights movement. It is crucial to amplify black voices and support black lives in the middle of this struggle.

In celebration and in solidarity, for Black History Month we offer a roundup of radical poetry, stunning prose, and crucial critical social theory by African American authors.

Layout 1The Breakbeat Poets (Haymarket Books), edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh A. Lansana, and Nate Marshall,  is a first-of-its-kind anthology of hip-hop poetica written for and by the people. The book challenges the notion of what poetry is and who is allowed to access it, breaking down the Ivory Tower to discuss how hip-hop, an art form created by African Americans, revolutionized a genre.

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Haymarket Books), by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, fromblacklivesmatteranalyzes the roots of the Black Lives Matter movement and its potential to reignite a broader struggle for Black liberation. Beginning with the mass protests of the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City, activist and scholar Taylor discusses how the Black Lives Matter movement has awakened a new generation of activists. This book is available starting tomorrow!

africanamericanwomenAfrican American Women (GILES), a collection of photographs from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, with a foreword by Lonnie G Bunch, is the third book in the NMAAHC’s “Double Exposure” series. This volume contains stunning photographs which demonstrate the dignity, joy, heartbreak, commitment, and sacrifice of women of all ages and backgrounds, from midwives at work in the rural south to students jailed for civil rights protests.

But Some of Us Are Brave (The Feminist Press at CUNY), edited by Akasbutsomeofusha (Gloria T.) Hull, Patricia Bell-Scott, and Barbara Smith, is the first comprehensive collection of black feminist scholarship, the call for an academic revolution. Audre Lorde praised this book as “Exciting! Affirmations and the beginning of a new era, where the ‘women’ in women’s studies will no longer mean ‘white.'”

Tales (Akashic Books) is a collection of staleshort stories by Amiri Baraka. In  the Philadelphia Tribune on February 5, noted American historian, literary critic, and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr. said, “We owe profound thanks to Akashic Books for reissuing this important collection of Amiri Baraka’s short stories. . . . Baraka was, without question, the central figure of the Black Arts Movement. . . Tales is a critical volume in Amiri Baraka’s oeuvre, and an important testament to his remarkable literary legacy.”

book of harlanThe Book of Harlan (Akashic Books), by Bernice L. McFadden, is a novel detailing the stories of two African American musicians captured by the Nazis in Paris during WWII and imprisoned at the Buchenwald concentration camp. From an author praised by NPR and an editor’s choice at the New York Times Book Review, The Book of Harlan is a powerful meditation on the past, present, and future of civil rights. Stay tuned for this book, which releases this May!

Freedom is a Constant Struggle (Haymarket Books)freedom is is a collection of essays, interviews, and speeches by world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis. Reflecting on the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movements, Davis champions the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine. Davis challenges all of us to imagine and build a new movement for human liberation.

Find out where to buy The Breakbeat Poets, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, African American Women, But Some of Us Are Brave, Tales, The Book of Harlan, Freedom is a Constant Struggle, and many more books here at the Consortium website.

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Community, Culture, Collaboration: The Groundbreaking Publishing of Coffee House Press

coffeehouselogoIn the early 1970s, a student at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop named Allan Kornblum painstakingly assembled a letterpress operation which he named “Toothpaste Press.” In 1984, Kornblum moved to Minnesota, renamed his operation “Coffee House Press,” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since officially becoming an independent publishing house, Coffee House Press has challenged the notions of what literature is and how much of an impact it can truly have. It’s a mission driving powerful results: in this past year alone, two Coffee House titles have been shortlisted for National Book Critics Circle awards. Mr. and Mrs. Doctor by Julie Iromuanya, is in the running for the John Leonard Award, which honors a debut work. Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of my Teeth was also nominated, in this case for the NBCC award in fiction. Highlighting the most recent of their successes, Coffee House Press was featured in the February 2016 Issue of Independent Publisher.

While Coffee House Press is first and foremost a publisher, they maintain a strong presence in the literary community. Coffee House has partnered with numerous organizations throughout the years, including the Walker Art Center and the Minnesota Historical Society. Coffee House also offers several residencies for writers, including “Coffee House in the Parks,” a new program established this winter. In collaboration with Three Rivers Park District, Coffee House set up an inventive writer’s retreat in a 6′ x 8′ ice shanty in Silverwood Park.

Aside from community collaboration, Coffee House Press is piloting guKnightCoffeeSleeve1920x1080_1.jpgerilla marketing tactics to reinvent the way people look at literature. One of their newest innovations is “Coffee Sleeves,” a clever twist off of the publisher’s espresso-themed name where excerpts of poetry and prose written by local writers of color were printed on 10,000 coffee sleeves, to be distributed in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro.

“It’s a way of putting literature in a public space and giving people a literary experience that isn’t reading a book,” says Caroline Casey, Coffee House Press’s managing director, in a piece by The Atlantic on January 28.

With their commitment to community, culture, and collaboration, it’s a small wonder that Coffee House is considered one of the top independent publishers around. Thank you, Coffee House Press, for everything you share with the world, and best of luck at the NBCC Awards!

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Asymptote Journal Profiles Hispabooks’ Dedication to Translation

hispabooks_publishingAsymptote Journal sat down with Ana Pérez Galván on February 3rd to discuss the origins, journey, and triumphs of her press, Hispabooks.

Already familiar with the Spanish publishing industry, in 2011 Pérez Galván and her partner Gregorio Doval set out to form their own independent press. The duo wanted to find a niche for their press, something to differentiate them from the other small publishers in the market. They soon discovered a conspicuous gap in the literary world: while most eminent Spanish authors had their books translated into French, German, Italian, Serbian, and other languages of the region, few if any were ever translated into English.

Part of this dearth of English translations stems from the translation process. Typically, most publishers seeking to release translations are not fluent in the titles’ original languages. To save time, in order to determine which books to produce, they rely on outside reports of the books’ quality, content, and sales potential. This process is effective for commercially successful books, but often leaves behind more literary titles, whose nuance is difficult to convey by proxy.

But since Pérez Galván is a Spaniard herself, Hispabooks selects titles straight from the source, picking up many books that other translators may overlook or leave behind.

“For us,” Pérez Galván says, “our biggest achievement is having put a series of authors ‘on the map’ of world literature in English translation, who, we believe, are really worthy of august-octoberrecognition.”

American critics agree—Hispabooks’ August, October made the Boston Globe‘s list of “Best Books of 2015.” The newest translation triumph, released this past week, from Hispabooks is None So Blind, which Pérez Galván describes as “a beautiful tale on values and sense of belonging which is particularly relevant in the light of all political and religious conflicts going on now worldwide.

Hispabooks is certainly pioneering a new dedication to English translation. We can’t wait to see what spellbinding translation they release next!

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Akashic Books: A New Hope (for breakout literature)

carriefisherIf you, like many, are a fan of Carrie Fisher (otherwise known as Princess Leia of the Star Wars universe) and her vibrant Twitter feed, you may have spotted her tweet mentioning Go the Fuck to Sleep, the 2011 smash hit from Akashic Books.

It’s safe to say the Force has been with Akashic these past few months. Days before Fisher’s Tweet, Go the Fuck to Sleep went platinum, making it Akashic’s first title to sell over one million copies. This past September, Senior Editor Ibrahim Ahmad was featured as one of Publishers Weekly’s 2015 Star Watch Finalists.

In the publishing world’s version of the American Dream, Ahmad started at Akashic as an internAkashicLogoNew03 at age 17. He quickly moved up the ranks to become one of Akashic’s four core staffers. Beginning with very little publishing experience, Ahmad proved that he had a natural eye for editorial work. As an intern, he fought to acquire Boy Genius by Yongsoo Park, exclaiming “F— YEAH!” in black sharpie on his reader’s report. Akashic went on to acquire and publish the book, which was a finalist for the Asian American Literary Awards.

As Senior Editor, Ahmad took on the biggest challenge of all when he spearheaded the marketing and publicity campaign for Go the Fuck to Sleep. The title hit every major #1 bestseller list before it was even published. It was an unprecedented level of media attention for the small press.

“[It] was a crash course in publishing that simply cannot be taught,” Ahmad says.

Though Ahmad jokes about the large number of gray hairs that the reception to Go the Fuck to Sleep gave him, the book’s success provided Akashic with not only confidence but also a much-welcomed financial stability. The beginning of 2016 ushers in two new titles from Akashic: Chasing Water, a memoir by Olympic gold-medalist Anthony Ervin, and The Book of Harlan, a novel about two African American musicians imprisoned in Nazi Germany.

The [literary] Force is strong with this one. Congrats, Akashic, on all of your star-studded success!

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