During my time away from the site over the past week I came across Alma Books and their own blog – Bloggerel, written mostly by Alma Books founder, Alessandro Gallenzi, and his take on the current state of publishing in what he describes as ‘Chicken publishing’ in an article posted over the weekend. Below, he expresses his frank comments on how he sees the current state of play in book publishing.
It is the chronic lack of ambition and the increasing copy-cat, series-based nature of most of what is published today – not only in terms of contents but also in terms of cover and packaging – that is driving the world of publishing (and with it writers, agents and booksellers) towards the abyss, not the heavy discounting or the ailing chains. We need something fresh, something new: we need to reinvent the wheel.
Gallenzi has at least done his bit to reinvent the publishing wheel, having founded Hesperus Press before Alma Books. There is a couple of notable features about Alma Books – one, they still operate an open door policy in regard to unsolicited submissions and – two, they made the brave decision to buy the financially ailing maverick British publisher, John Calder back in 2007, and so preserve a distinguished list of exceptional European books of modern literature and academia. Much of that innate and challenging sense of publishing ‘outside the box’ remains vibrant at Alma Books today.
And that is truly what I call ‘reinventing the publishing wheel’.