Thursday, January 14, 2010


Small, independent and nonprofit presses have perhaps the most to gain from the eBook revolution..."
--from "The Making of an eBook" By Craig Morgan Teicher

What is the market for poetry ebooks? Well, at the moment, it's constrained by technology. Specifically, when readers enlarge the text on their screens, original line breaks get dropped (OH HO! THE GAZE AFFECTS THE SUBJECT!). When Meritage Press published Michelle Bautista's KALI'S BLADE viz ebook, it looks great on Kindle but crappy on, say, the Iphone screen.

It's the same issue as when poems are published on the web. As people change the size of the reading font, the page adjusts the text. Which leads to an interesting question. As Michelle puts it, "As with any new technology we shall see how it continues to influence writing. Will poets need to use more punctuation to delineate their intended pauses, for example."

I haven't looked at "Twitter poetry" or other such things, but it seems to me that if your Muse is techie-sensitive, the effect of reading screens on poems may be a significant source of future muse-grappling.

Right now, some poetry publishers are just publishing prose or prose poetry until this issue is resolved. And, since everything is about Moi, Moi will also insert herself in here to say that we're currently exploring how to digitize THE THORN ROSARY since, synchronistically, it's a prose poem collection.

By the way, the Kindle edition of KALI'S BLADE is priced at $0.99 (a 94% discount!) because we at Meritage Press are still at the experimental stage on these ebooks....but, if you do have ebook capacity, that makes it one of the all-time bargains out Go on--whatchoo waiting for?

Fortunately, until I'm able to reap the gazillions from the ebook revolution, Meritage Press is holding its own. To wit:

Yes dears: I continue to make history! I am pleased to announce that I've just estimated my 2009 Poet's Income Statement and 2009 is my second profitable year in a row! This was 2008's results (my first profitable year as a poet); this is 2009's results:
TOTAL COSTS $1,708.36
NET PROFIT $616.62

All that suffering for a mere six hundred bucks? Nonetheless, I order Toi to be impressed. I apply for no grants and it took seven years for Meritage Press to break into the black! The key factor? Lowering costs by resorting to short print runs and POD technology.

Having said that, 2009 of course was the year of the Great Recession, and poetry sales plummeted. Here's a comparison of sales figures over the last three years:

2009 REVENUES $2,324.98
2008 REVENUES $9,117.92
2007 REVENUES $7,721.88

But I am profitable! It's the least I should achieve for forgoing the MFA for an MBA in economics and international business.

Finally, on all this poetry economics bidness, congratulations to Garrett Caples whose COMPLICATIONS was Meritage Press' 2009 bestseller. And I haven't even digitized it!! And if you haven't read that book to determine why it's gotten a fabulous following, get up to date and purchase a copy! Let's all keep up with 21st century revolutions, okay?!

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