February 9, 2011
From Bridget Kinsella at Publisher’s Weekly:
In response to bookseller feedback at previous Winter Institutes, the ABA increased the representation of independent presses at this year’s event in Arlington, Va. Representatives from indie presses bookended Friday’s schedule with time to pitch titles at the morning session and an author signing in evening.
Michael Reynolds from Europa Editions thanked the independent booksellers for helping make the publishing company’s books-in-translation model a success, particularly with their handselling of The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry. “When we began Europa Editions, they told us we were crazy,” said Reynolds. “Now we have close to one million copies [of The Elegance of the Hedgehog] in print. ”
After five years, Europa will publish its 100th title, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky, in May. It is a story of three generations of Russian Tartar women. “We’ve had pretty good luck with quirky titles,” said Reynolds. In September Europa will launch Tonga, an imprint that will feature American authors selected by acquiring editor Alice Sebold. Alexander Maksik was at the reception signing copies of an excerpt from You Deserve Nothing, Tonga’s first release.
Dan Simon, publisher of Seven Stories, presented the novel Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harstad, which is coming in June. It’s about a “boy who is inspired not to fame and fortune but to anonymity,” said Simon. And after selling more than 30,000 copies of the utopian novel Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! by Ralph Nader in hardcover, Simon said the press is re-releasing the book as nonfiction in paperback. Nader had one of the longest lines at the reception.
Small Press Distribution’s Megan Taylor continued Simon’s self-proclaimed “love letter to booksellers,” saying, “We are your natural partners.” One-third of SPD’s sales go through indie bookstores, she said, and less than 5% sells through chains. Adam Golaski signed copies of Color Plates, a collection of vignettes inspired by French Impressionist painters, published by Metal Press in September 2010.
Robert McDonald from the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill., said he was excited to see Golaski and Metal Press, a Chicago publisher, at WI6. “As booksellers we can’t lose sight of these kinds of authors,” he said.
Soho publisher Bronwen Hruska presented Love Shrinks: The Memoir of a Marriage Counselor’s Divorce by bestselling self-help and marriage expert Sharyn Wolf, to be published in May. “I read the manuscript a year and half ago, and I couldn’t put it down,” said Hruska. “I thought of five different friends who need to read this book–and not just divorced people.”
As Wolf signed galleys at the reception, Hruska observed: “It’s wonderful to be in this room with all these booksellers. As independent presses we don’t always get the big exposure moments.”
Josayln Moran of Albert Whitman & Co. used her big moment to highlight What Do You See? and Look Who’s There, two new board books by Martine Perrine. Moran said she stumbled on Perrine’s board books at the Bologna Book Fair years ago and that she had enjoyed reading them to her daughter. “Now my daughter is reading them to her daughters,” she said.
Europa’s Reynolds called WI6 “the best thing since sliced bread.” He first heard about it from Sarah McNally of McNally Jackson in New York City. “For a small publisher to travel the country and meet every bookseller is not very practical,” he said. “Independent booksellers are our first and best friends. They always are and always will be. To be able to fine-tune that is the best way to support the independent bookseller.”
Betsy Burton of the King’s English, Salt Lake City, Utah, summed it up, saying that indie presses and indie bookstores are a “perfect fit.”