Of festival friends and small press love

During my stint as secretary of the Chestertown Book Festival (2009-2010), I got to help bring together some great writers, illustrators, reviewers, and general book enthusiasts. Last year, in particular, we had Washington Post Book World reviewer Michael Dirda as our opening act, and among the other festival events he perused, was a presentation by my friends Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson of Idiots'Books. After Robbi and Matthew finished their event, Michael introduced himself and there was a meeting of like book-minds.

(photo courtesy Andrea B. Neiman)

Recently, Michael Dirda wrote a Reading Room column praising the ideas and books coming out of small presses. And who was his first example of excellence in the small press world? The Idiots! I, myself, am a huge fan of the small press (as I'm sure you know). In May, I posted about, what I hope will be, the potentially mutually-beneficial relationship between small press publishing and the rise of the e-reader (or mutually-exclusive, at the least). Are Michael Dirda's tastes a sign of a movement bolstering the small press publishing world? I can only hope.

If you are interested in finding all these wonderful sorts of books, but are unsure where to start (one of the limits inherent in this area of publishing is that they aren't available wherever books are sold), a great market is Small Press Distribution: a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting small press books into the hands of readers. Of course, not every small press book is listed here (some presses have their own independently managed sites, like Idiots'Books); but it is a great place to get acquainted with the sorts of things this world has to offer.


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