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Other Press: BookBuffet's Review of Indi Publishing Houses


What do smaller pub houses offer that the conglomerates can't? A passion and philosophy about books that is as varied and interesting as their owners. BookBuffet scouted out these fascinating people at the BEA in New York and asked for book recommendations from ten of the most interesting indi publishing houses. We start our series here with Other Press.


July 24, 2005

There are six major publishers in New York, between 300-400 medium-sized publishers and 86,000 small and self-publishing houses. Publishers Weekly stated that 80% of all books sold are controlled by the conglomerates.

All good reasons why you should explore the world of independent publishing—independent publishers are to the publishing industry what independent filmmakers are to the film industry. To me that means creative and edgy.  But if you ask Larry Baker, one of the IPPY (Independent Publishing Award) judges he will say that,

"[B]ooks are supposed to be well-written pieces of work. What does that mean? That means creativity, imagination, a strong voice, a way with words...

Books are not information dumped onto pages... books are not merely description, endless descriptive passages. No real insight. Certainly no emotional impact... Going on and on about what the sky looks like is not storytelling, it’s just description.

Books are a place for an author to creatively tell us about and show us his or her thoughts, opinions, experiences, feelings, you name it. The joy, the pain, and everything in between."

An independent publisher is generally a smaller publisher run by a handful of people who are willing to specialize and take more literary risks than the larger publishers. They serve the niche markets, the special interests.

Other Press is located on 7th Avenue in New York. I spoke with Juliet Barnes, Director of Marketing whose enthusiasm for the books her company produces is palpable.

"Every book on our list illuminates the human experience in its own interesting, and often unexpected way.  The flexibility and creativity of a small company is wonderful—the books and the staff are not limited by confining categories and bureaucracy, so we can give each book the individual attention it deserves, and enjoy collaborating to get quality books into readers' hands," says Juliet.


Their four-year young imprint, Handsel Books specializes in contemporary poetry novels and essays and "fulfills my ideal of what a literary publisher should be, a purveyer of excellence." - Robert Pinsky. US Poet Laureate (1997-2000)


Selected Novels

Browse the Other Press website for yourself,, but here is a list of books we found intriguing:

Possessed by Shadows: A Novel, Donigan Merritt (June 2005) A tribute to the selfless love and bonds of friendship forged in the extremes of high mountains.  The novel tells the story of two climbers who spent a year traveling from the rugged desert of Joshua Tree to the Alps, Himalayas and the high Tatra mountains of Czechoslovakia. This book is being considered as an upcoming WHISTLER READS-villagewide reading program selection.

O My Darling by Amity Gaige (May 2005) This book received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly.  The story of a young married couple trying to keep things going amidst difficult circumstances. "Gaige has a pure, hyper-real vision of suburban America that places her among the most talented of the new generation of writers." OP  


Crossways: A Novel by Sheila Kohler (available in paperback in Sept 2005) “A combination domestic drama and psychological thriller." –SanFrancisco Chronicle  Crossways was given a great review by J.M. Coetzee and Kirkus Reviews both. [OP is bringing three other novels by Sheila back into print: The Perfect Place (Sept 2005), Cracks (2006), The Children of Pithiviers (2006)] This all bodes toward Kohler being an author to follow.



The Story of My Baldness, Marek van der Jagt (pseudonym), Arnon Grunberg (author), translated by Dr. Todd Armstrong (2004, available in paperback Feb. 2006) A Viennese philosophy student Marek van der Jagt tells the story of his quest for l’amour fou. His tale begins in a sleazy bar, where he receives a suitcase from a mysterious, vodka-guzzling artiste. The suitcase contains clothes that belonged to his late mother. And, more importantly, it contains a clue to the first of many shameful secrets that form the backbone of The Story of My Baldness.

Keywords: Identity Series Editor, Nadia Tazi.  One of a multi-volume series of books taking keywords: truth, identity, gender, experience and nature, and examining them from six different cultural-political and historical perspectives by select authors. In the volume entitled Gender for example, they give a highly contemporary American analysis of the tension between feminist studies and the concept of the queer, while the Arab reading of the same word turns to the history of the Arab world to champion the cause of women and homosexuals.

For the African author, identity is bound up with questions of ethnicity, race, and colonial laws. The Chinese author shows how in his country identity has been informed in the 20th century by Western references, such as Marxism and the market economy, because at its roots Chinese thought does not directly include these notions.

Elected Friends, Michael Hofmann (2004) Robert Frost and Edward Thomas met in a bookshop in London in 1913. During the next four years, the two writers formed the most important friendship between poets since that of Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Freud’s Women, Lisa Appignanesi, John Forrester (2001) "An ambitious history of Freud’s relationships with women: a lucid, sympathetic account.”-Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year  "This wonderful book is the tale of the great twentieth-century love affair with Freudian thought. It is an overblown historical romance that has at its centre the riddle of femininity itself.”-Suzanne Moore, The Guardian

Next Up: Cornell University Press



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