Feral House and its creator Adam Parfrey have marched to the beat of their own subversive drum since the very beginning. Since 1989, Feral House has successfully made a niche for themselves through publishing “high quality books on forbidden topics,” as they proclaim on their website. They are well-known for publishing controversial materials that many mainstream bookstores refuse to sell. On October 13, Michael Nirenberg for Huffington Post released part one of his two-part interview with Adam Parfrey, where they discussed the press and its specific market.
Parfrey started out writing articles for magazines. His first foray into publishing was with Amok Press, a venture Parfrey started with his friend Ken Swezey, who ran Amok Catalog. The duo’s first book, Michael by Joseph Goebbels, was a pro-Russia book with touches of early Nazism.The title received a glowing review from the New York Times, the first and last major review one of Parfrey’s titles would receive for many years: “No other book, until like 25 or 30 years later, got a favorable write-up in the New York Times.” Feral House’s lack of success and appreciation from the mainstream market does not bother Parfrey: “I’m not in it to make money—it’s the wrong business for that.”
Though many mainstream bookstores want benign titles, Feral House refuses to give in. Part of the reason why they are so successful is because of Parfrey’s adamant stance on what the press publishes: “We don’t do fiction… Poetry, we don’t do. We don’t do books with short stories.” Instead, they only publish non-fiction titles, creating an eclectic catalog that does not stray away from controversial topics. For example, one of their recent titles Why Hope? The Stand Against Civilization by the eco-anarchist John Zerzan is a provocative slam against technology.
Adam Parfrey and Feral House teach us an important lesson: lack of mainstream success doesn’t equal failure. Unconcerned with awards and accolades, Parfrey publishes books he believes in, a business plan that has clearly worked for the tenacious Feral House.