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The CLMP Newswire
A Biweekly Email News Dispatch on Independent Literary Publishing
A Project of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (

Table of Contents for November 15, 2001 (Volume 1, Number 17)


Thanks to Harcourt/Harvest Books, fans of Verbatim can now read a collection of essays that span the literary language journal's 27 years in print. The new book is called Verbatim: From the Bawdy to the Sublime, The Best Writing on Language for Word Lovers, Grammar Mavens, and Armchair Linguists.

Verbatim is the only magazine of language and linguistics for a person without a Ph.D., according to Editor Erin McKean. "We maintain that everyone is interested in good, humorous, jargon-free writing about language," she says. The nonprofit magazine, which has held steady at 1,600 subscriptions for the last several years, has already benefited from the book. "We have always had a high renewal rate," says McKean, "But now with the publication of the book we are seeing an unprecedented number of new subscribers."

Since Founding Editor Laurence Urdang mailed a stapled four-page journal to 200 friends and colleagues, the magazine has gone through many changes-including a change of hands. In 1997, Dr. Warren Gilson (an avid reader) bought Verbatim from Urdang, established a corporation, and turned the magazine into a non-profit organization. He also called McKean out of the blue, having heard about her through a lecture she gave for the Dictionary Society of North America.

"I thought it was a joke," says McKean. "I mean, I had read this publication when I was in high school. But the longer [Gilson] talked the more I realized he was serious." McKean is now the magazine's one and only employee, doing editing, copy-editing, design, layout, and advertising. "I never get tired of it," she says. "I just want to make language and literature interesting and not frightening to people."

McKean immediately saw the wealth of material collected after 25 years of publication and thought of self-publishing an anthology. That's when she got another "call out of the blue," this time from Harcourt/Harvest Books Editor Kati Hesford. "That's really the whole story of Verbatim," says McKean. Since its publication, the book has received favorable reviews in Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly and Booklist-and has showcased the journal's rich history.

To view a copy of the book or find out more about Verbatim, log on at


For its 30th birthday, employee-owned wholesaler Bookpeople is offering a flat discount rate to its customers based on the total number of books ordered and not the number of titles per order. "We were looking for ways to reward people who use us regularly," says Judy Wheeler, Sales and Marketing Director. To that end, the wholesaler now offers discounts of up to 42 percent if customers order over 150 books, regardless of numbers ordered for individual titles.

In addition, the Oakland-based company has extended its free freight offer-already in place for California, Washington, and Oregon-to Nevada. And, in an effort to pick up where Ingram's closures left off, Bookpeople now offers a two percent credit on freight for customers in Arizona and Colorado. "Our business has definitely picked up since the Ingram closures," says Wheeler, noting a large increase in business in Southern California.

Bookpeople attributes its early success to what it calls innovation-oriented publishers like Shambala Publications, the Whole Earth Catalog, and John Muir Press. Five years ago, Bookpeople's Employee's Association established Words Distributing Company, which is the exclusive distributor for 35 small publishers. Then in 1999, the company established Bookpeople's Fulfillment Division (affectionately known as B.F.D.) after many publishers bemoaned the lack of fulfillment houses that suited their needs. It now has 23 clients.

When the Bookpeople Employees Association bought out the original owners of Bookpeople, the idea was considered radical and innovative. In 1971, a San Francisco chronicle reporter described the then Berkeley-based Bookpeople as a "working commune of 30 longhairs." Skeptics didn't give the company a year to survive. But 30 years later, Bookpeople is alive and well. Says Wheeler with a slight laugh, "People called it a social experiment that would never work. I guess we proved them wrong."

The website where you can view the entire inventory is


Eric Lorberer, Editor of Rain Taxi Review of Books and Minneapolis resident, had an epiphany one day. Every city but his own had a book festival, so why not organize one? Specifically, Lorberer felt it his civic duty to bring more attention to contemporary literature in the Twin Cities area, which is home to such distinguished presses as Graywolf and Coffee House and to the renowned literary center Open Book. Thus was the first ever Twin Cities Book Festival born-an event dedicated to the promotion of literary works and an appreciation of the book as an embodiment of artistic expression.

After a year of organization, the event took place on October 27 and featured 52 publishing exhibitors, 30 book artists, and a literary magazine fair which displayed hundreds of literary magazines from around the country. "The whole thing was a success," says Lorberer. "There was a great spirit among all those who participated and attended the event." The events included a keynote reading by poet Robert Creeley and a "Bill Truesdale Tribute Reading" to celebrate the return of New Rivers Press. And, for a little humor, Lorberer says a really "goofy" quiz show got loads of laughs when contestants had to answer trivia questions about Minnesota writers and, in the final round, had to determine which Bly-Robert or Carol-wrote specifically named books.

The event ran from a "shoestring budget," according to Lorberer. The College of St. Benedict sponsored the keynote reading, and Open Book donated the space in exchange for being a co-sponsor. By day's end, Lorberer and other organizers were already thinking about how to expand and draw even more than the nearly 2,000 participants. "Though we learned that you can do a large event on a small budget, there's no doubt we'll apply for some grants next year to ease some of the burden," says Lorberer.

Lorberer began Rain Taxi Review of Books because he felt many books were not getting their due in the larger more mainstream reviews. Four years later, the publication won the UTNE Reader's Alternative Press Award, and it was nominated again this year. The review distributes 18,000 copies of each issue throughout the United States. Check them out at


"Get Lit," Small Press Distribution's program designed to encourage independent bookstores to steer customers toward small press books, grew in popularity for the fourth straight year in a row. "We've been growing at a nice, steady pace," says SPD Sales and Web Manager Brent Cunningham. In 1998-the program's first year-30 independent bookstores participated. This year, that number jumped to 90.

The way the program works is simple. Four media sponsors-Boston Review, The Village Voice, Poets and Writers, and The Writer-place ads in their magazines at no cost to SPD. The ads list the independent bookstores that are participating in SPD's program. SPD, in turn, provides each of the participating bookstores with posters and "shelf-talkers," (those nifty book descriptions that hang on the shelves at bookstores) advertising the Get Lit program and encouraging store patrons to buy from an independent press. In addition, bookstores receive a buyer's package highlighting 24 books of SPD's current inventory that are likely to sell through well. Participating bookstores are required to order up to 40 books, depending on the store size.

The overall objective for SPD is to support the small and independent publishers it represents, such as Hanging Loose Press, Ausable Press, and Mammoth Books, all of whom were included this year. But the independent bookstores benefit from the publicity garnered by the ads in the media sponsors' magazines. Also, Cunningham lauds the media sponsors for supporting literature by donating free ads to benefit SPD, which is a non-profit organization. "The point is to show bookstores that when they give some advantage to small presses, the books perform at the same level as those that come from the big houses," he says.

For more information, log on at


Linda Gardiner, Editor and Publisher of the long running Women's Review of Books, won the "Exceptional Women in Publishing Award." The award, established in 1999, recognizes a woman who has "made extraordinary contributions to the publishing industry as a whole, who has achieved prominence within her chosen field, or has filled a niche in publishing that traditionally has not been considered a woman's role."

Gardiner was on hand to accept the award at a breakfast ceremony in New York City on October 30. The event was sponsored by the Folio Show and Women in Periodical Publishing, a nonprofit membership and advocacy organization dedicated to supporting the career growth of women in the online and periodical publishing industry.

On Tuesday, November 20th, The Small Press Center Publishing Workshop hosts a panel titled "What's Happening to Book Reviewing?" The panel will examine the current state of the book reviewing process, discussing trends in the industry and offering suggestions for writers and publishers on how to get their books noticed. The panel starts at 5:30; the Small Press Center is located at 20 West 44th Street, New York. Panelists include: Ilene Barth, Creative Director, Red Rock Press and former NBBC board member; Julie Just, Deputy Editor, The New York Times Book Review; Malcolm Jones, Book Critic, Newsweek; and Laura Miller, Editorial Director,

CLMP Newswire

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Issues are distributed on the 1st and 15th of each month.
News reported by: Leslie Schwartz,
Edited by: Rob Casper,

Generous funding for the 2001 editions of the CLMP Newswire has been provided by the Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds.

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