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L.A. Indie Book Publishers Are Thriving. How Is That Possible?

5 November 2012

From LA Weekly:

Starting a book publishing house in today’s economic climate, Anthony Berryman acknowledges, was “insane.” He admits, “From a business perspective, it was never a thought that I was going to be a book publisher. I’m a high school teacher. That’s what I do.”

But start a publishing house is just what he did. Berryman, who teaches English and philosophy at Compton High School, founded Mugger Press in his one-bedroom apartment in Eagle Rock in 2011. He wasn’t deterred by the catastrophic collapse the publishing industry is facing; he wasn’t frightened by the Great Recession. All he wanted was to bring Sam McPheeters’ novel The Loom Of Ruin into the world.

Blame his experience working at Bookfellows in Glendale — now called Mystery and Imagination Bookshop. One day, owner Malcolm Bell placed a first edition of John Fante’s Ask the Dust in Berryman’s hands. That’s when Berryman knew he wanted to publish books.

. . . .

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” Berryman says.

Because of the recession and the way that online commerce, from Amazon to e-books, is shaking up the book business, larger publishing houses seem mostly interested in projects they know will sell. They’re less likely to take a chance on a new author with a unique vision or a literary bent. But that has only created a niche for guys like Berryman.

. . . .

While it might be easy to deride these publishers as fiscally irresponsible idealists, it’s probably better to look at them as pioneers, men and women who are determined to bring quality projects to the collective consciousness, despite the overwhelming odds of failure. In fact, the founders of Writ Large Press first started a literary journal,Wednesday, with failure in mind. That premise, says its editor and publisher, Chiwan Choi, frees their creative process. Writ Large now has published five books.

Link to the rest at LA Weekly and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Small Presses

5 Comments to “L.A. Indie Book Publishers Are Thriving. How Is That Possible?”

  1. I wish him nothing but the very best. We need people like him with a vision that have the nerve to plow ahead and make positive changes in this ever changing publishing world.

  2. “Starting a book publishing house in today’s economic climate, Anthony Berryman acknowledges, was “insane.” ”

    Stop following your dream!

  3. Yeah, stop NOW – before you have a chance to accidently succeed.

    (Just don’t tell Hocking, Konrath, Locke, McQuestion or Winters, okay?)

  4. Well, I think this is cool, but I also think the article sort of romanticises what sounds like a hobby to me. This:

    “As to the number of books sold, he simply doesn’t seem concerned. Like vinyl records and gourmet pickles, independent book-making is becoming artisanal, with dedicated entrepreneurs producing small batches and focusing on quality over profit”.

    Again, it’s very cool. But from a longer viewpoint, it’s also probably the future of print.

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