The act of reading reviews is addictive. In part, I want to see which writers are setting the world alight. But I also take a good look at the publishers of those lauded books, and if ever I see a small press — which is seldom — another part of me (probably my hand; apologies for this awful sentence) punches the air.
This morning, there is yet more cause for cheer. Nicholas Clee (whose editorial is published in both the Guardian Review and the Bookseller; read it — his last — in full) has this to say about small presses versus that Goliath, Waterstone’s:
Waterstone’s has brought the first printing of the paperback edition [of a heralded, small-press book], out at the end of this month, to put into one of its three-for-two promotions. In another sign that Waterstones’s is taking this area of the market seriously, the chain has given a member of its head office staff the role of liaising with small publishers and self-published authors.
This is great news. The cooperation of Waterstone’s (owned by W H Smith) is crucial in getting a book noticed. Too often, authors published by a small press are limited in their outreach because Waterstones has a rather ‘Who the hell are you?’ attitude to small presses. It’s difficult to condemn this attitude because, in the long run, it probably makes business sense for Waterstone’s. They aren’t a charity, after all. But it is a frustrating position for an author in which to find himself. So news that Waterstone’s wants to make a definite connection with small presses is cheering news indeed.