Friday, August 07, 2009


I get it. As a poetry publisher, I so totally get it and it HURTS where I get it! I get No Tell Books' "Free Tarot Reading or Dream Interpretation Offer" for customers who buy a poetry book. As they say:
No Tell Books is trapped in the same pot along with hundreds of other small presses. We’re all jumping up and down yelling, HELP US, BUY A BOOK, WE’RE MELTING! // Pleas have gone unanswered...

Anyway, No Tell Books' offer is amazing and you are wise to take advantage of divining your future through poetry. Having said that, No Tell Book's unique approach made me curious as to how moi Meritage Press is doing during this recession. Well, it is dismal.

SPD is the primary source of revenues for Meritage Press. I get an annual check from them -- the 2009 check reflects a 64% drop from my 2008 check. So far this year, I've sold just 21 books viz Amazon and 10 books viz Lulu. Outside of these *distributors*, I've had two individual customers and one retailer-customer purchase another three books. I've also had three authors continue to purchase their own books (but I give moi beloved authors special discounts that don't do much for Meritage Press' bottom line.) These 2009, to date, results aren't that good when I've got 21 titles to sell...

Still, there are highlights. Okay, just two highlights. Nearly 50 copies of Pinoy Poetics were sold as textbooks for a summer class this year at Sonoma State. And Prau was used as a text too in the spring semester. Yeeeee-hah! These orders are likely to make 2009 Meritage Press' second year in the black (though it only takes a buck to have a positive financial result, mind you, which means I'm a long way from recouping costs of previous years when the press used to lose $5k or so a year).

But the other reason why the press is not (yet) melting is because I've deferred publishing much new books this year. Sales income is supposed to generate funds for doing new books -- and such has not occurred this recession (income has been used just to cover existing fixed costs).

Next year, I do hope to publish new books but have only two books scheduled -- way below my desired output. (Which of course only means that these two books are very very special to have slipped through the financial squeeze -- but such specialness is a story for another day.)

So what should I do now? I want to concoct some sort of "Special Offer," too. But the most successful I could dream up is probably a glass of wine with each book and such poses logistical difficulties.... but, okay, lookit, if you purchase a Meritage Press title during the rest of this month, let moi know ( and I'll send you a "Wine Drawing". I wouldn't call it a "special" offer -- it's me drawing by spilling from a glass of wine. In this recession, that'd be an expensive drawing and you'd be lucky to have it for the price of a Meritage Press book!

That's about the best I can do, Folk-Peeps.


I should implicate moiself. My poetry-buying also has been quite diminished of late. Recently, I've only purchased one poetry book, THE SUBURBAN ECSTASIES by Seth Abramson -- only the second purchase that's occurred as a result of something I read on a poet's blog (the first such blog-inspired purchase were the books of Reginald Shepherd). This isn't an honor of sorts -- many of the poets I admire blog and I would buy their books whether or not they blog; Abramson and Shepherd are two poets brought to my attention viz blogland and I found stuff on their blogs interesting enough to check out their poetry.

(I also bought Abramson's book before the recent brou-haha he got involved in so don't add my comment as a comment on that borehaha). So, anyway, I got Abramson's book because I was curious as to what kind of poems are written by someone who writes as he does on his blog (grin). Well, the surface gestures are elucidating (though that's a personal mo to moiself): the hardback, the fact that this "first book" is actually a book-length poem....

I haven't read the book yet, but a random opening of it surfaces this which I much appreciate:
The only way to paint a boulder in the surf
                  is as though it were alive--

cooling the moving flesh
with colorlessness, then down to its verb,

Where was I before I rudely interrupted moiself? Oh yes, I was saying: I, too, should buy more poetry books -- how else to muster the enthusiasm to push the books I write and/or publish, yah? Self: you are nota-bened!

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