BibliOpinions

The Pub Houses Gather

by

Lauren Roberts

For several years, I have included in my editor’s letter a section called “The Pub House” in which I select a publisher, often small or mid-sized that specializes in one or two genres. I began it with a sense that there were so many publishers out there who put out excellent books but who didn’t always have the ability to capture some of that golden shelf space at bookstores and/or that often didn’t get much review attention. It was my intention to showcase them and two or three of their books for our readers each week, and I am pleased that I was able to do so.

Because this is our last issue, I decided to capture in one place as many of these publishing houses for you. I cannot promise they will continue to thrive—though I hope they will—but I wanted to leave behind their names, links, and a small note about what they publish. There are also a few imprints of larger houses that I felt deserved inclusion, but for the most part these are presses that do not get the attention they deserve. They are listed in alphabetical order.

I encourage our readers to check them out, bookmark them, and look at their online catalogs (or sign up for their e-newsletters). You just might discover books that thrill and delight you.

Abbeville Press is the publisher to visit if you are looking for beautiful books! They specialize in a range of fine art and illustrated books that cover, among other subjects, alphabets, architecture, art, biography, design, fashion and jewelry, food, gardening, inspirational, literature, media and music, pets and animals, photography, sports and travel.

Absolute Press is a UK publisher of books on cookery, food, and related subjects.

Academy Chicago Press is a mid-size press with interest in a large number of subjects: Art, Architecture, Design & Music; Authurian & Celtic; Biography & History; Botany; Children’s Literature & Parenting; Fantasy & Parapsychology; Fiction, Literature, & Humor (North American or British); Fiction & Nonfiction in Translation; Film & Video; Food & Cooking; Gay & Lesbian; Ghost Stories & Supernatural; Judaica & Holocaust; Law & Politics; Medicine & Health; Mystery, Suspense & True Crime; Ornithology; Poetry; Sports; Travel; and Women’s Interest.

Adventure Publications focuses on field guides, children’s books, cookbooks, various special interests, and more—all of which have in common the outdoors. 

The African Books Collective is not a single publisher. Rather it is a collective of African publishers who met in 1985 with the goal of strengthening “the economic base of independent  African publishers and meeting the needs of Northern libraries and other book buyers.” They opened their doors in 1989 in the UK. Michigan State University Press is their North American partner from whom the books can be ordered. The partnership focuses on African culture, literature, and scholarly and academic books, and children’s titles.

AK Press is by its own admission, “a worker-run collective that publishes and distributes radical books, visual and audio media, and other mind-altering material.”

Algonquin Books is one of the most revered of the middle-size publishers. Its motto is “Books for a well-read life,” and its books are indeed of that quality. (You have no doubt heard of at least several of their bestsellers because they have thirty categories ranging from Agriculture to Travel, and include both fiction and nonfiction.

Allium Press is a small independent house in Chicago that specializes in high-quality literary fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, and young adult fiction—all with a Chicago connection.

Angel City Press specializes in nonfiction and gift books about the City of Angels (Los Angeles), California, and pop culture in general. Though most would be classified as pop, they are nevertheless accurate, informational books about certain aspects of our culture. They also tend to be fun.

Applewood Books calls themselves “publishers of America’s living past.” Categories cover probably every nonfiction one from African American to Westward Expansion.

Arcadia Publishing specializes in local history titles (more than 6,000 to date with hundreds released each year), mostly in series form including Images of America, Postcards of America, Then and Now, Images of Rail, Images of Sports, and Images of Baseball.

Arundel Publishing is a new independent house that specializes in young adult, nonfiction, mysteries and thrillers. Its mission, besides producing worthwhile literature, is to apply fair business practices to its work and to demonstrate a commitment to philanthropy by donating a portion of each title's proceeds to charity.

Ash-Tree Press specializes in supernatural fiction in hardcover limited editions bound in a luxury cloth, smyth sewn, and printed on rich paper. (Their trade paperbacks are also particularly well produced.) They are not inexpensive, neither are they prohibitive for the appreciator of finely made books.

Assouline calls itself “the publishing house for people of taste.” Leaving aside that questionable assumption, this publisher does focus on “fine illustrated books covering art, fashion, architecture, gastronomy, travel and lifestyle with one simple idea in mind—all that is beautiful in the world ought to be in an Assouline book.” Expect expensive. Expect inexpensive. Most of all, expect extraordinary.

AudioGO (formerly known as (BBC Audiobooks America) is the distributor for the BBC’s audio books and especially single-voiced and full-cast radio dramatizations and BBC original programming. If you are a fan of the BBC, this is an excellent source of audio productions. All of Shakespeare’s plays are of course available.  And in their BBC Radio area, you’ll find listings under children’s, classics, collections, comedy, drama, mystery, nonfiction, television tie-ins, science fiction, and fantasy.

Bardsong Press is a publisher you have likely near heard of, but if you enjoy  Celtic culture from its ancient beginnings to its modern evolution in novels, anthologies of poetry, and short fiction it is worth checking out for readers  drawn British history, its Celtic roots, and the Arthurian legend.

Barricade Books publishes books that “test the boundaries of the First Amendment, ultimately strengthening it and protecting our personal freedom.” Translation: they probably have something guaranteed to offend everyone. But a publisher committed to not only making a profit but to protecting free speech means that the nonfiction they publish is likely to be outside the norm, and thus interesting.

Behler Publications issues books that meet the “personal journey with social relevance” theme in nonfiction, that is, their books “highlight personal introspection with a social conscience - literature that is timeless and touches all emotional and physical aspects of our lives.”

Bella Books focuses not on a particular genre but on “vibrant and irresistible fiction for and about lesbians.” Among the categories they publish are romance, mystery, erotica, and thrillers that tell "”contemporary and universal stories that capture our struggles and complexity, and ultimately honor our dreams and our hopes.”

Bellevue Literary Press has as its motto “books at the intersection of arts and sciences” so their line includes both “literary and authoritative” fiction and nonfiction for general educated readers as well as scientific professionals and academics.

BiblioLife is somewhat unusual in that this house doesn’t publish books per se but instead “represents a new way of reading and interacting with books and other items from our past. BiblioLife is our ‘curation imprint’—representing the Apps created by our own network of curators and subject matter experts. They feature books, articles, photos, modern commentary, and videos that provide context to history . . . For the price of a single paperback book, you can now get access to hundreds or even thousands of books and other content, all curated for your reading experience and delivered through a compelling and intuitive cross-platform user interface.”

Big Mouth House, an imprint of Small Beer Press, devotes itself to fiction for readers of all ages, though those aged 10 and up will be the primary audience.

Bitter Lemon Press is a UK press specializing in “the best crime and roman noirs from faraway places.” Some of their books are based on true stories, but it’s all fiction. For those who love literary crime fiction this publisher is well worth checking out.

Black Heron Press is a Seattle publisher that focuses on literary fiction, poetry and short story and essay collections. They are small, publishing four to six books per year, and their quality is high.

Bleak House Books specializes in mysteries, both reprints of classics and new books. These mysteries tend toward the darker side—cozies not allowed—but they are excellent.

BowTie Press is the book division of BowTie, Inc., the publisher of pet magazines and the owner of AnimalNetwork.com. They publish books “devoted to the joy, care, understanding and history of companion animals.”

Broadview Press calls itself “an independent academic publisher,” which might normally not qualify for its inclusion in this section. What makes Broadview different is  the way it approaches its focus on English Studies and Philosophy. For example, under English Studies they list categories that include British, American, Canadian, Children’s, Women’s, and World Literature; Drama; Poetry; Short Fiction; Language and Writing; and Literary Theory and Criticism. In addition, they also publish a wide range of titles under Broadview Editions, Broadview Encore Editions, and Broadview Anthologies

Busted Flush Press is the home of “fine thrillers and hard-boiled crime fiction.” It’s no amateur, however. Its founder worked in one of the nation’s oldest and largest mystery bookstores for sixteen years before discovering that nothing “irritated me more than to discover a wonderful writer to handsell, then have the publisher drop the author since the sales weren't sufficiently large for their tastes. I started up BFP as a way to reissue some of the authors and books that were employee and customer favorites.”

Candlemark & Gleam is a somewhat unusual publisher. Their focus is science fiction and fantasy, and they publish in electronic and paperback versions. Formerly they also offered few limited hand-bound editions “individually designed to suit the contents of the novel within” and some are still available. They refer to them as “pixel, pulp, or papyrus, so to speak.”

Candlewick Press is an independent publisher—it’s 100 percent employee owned—of children’s books: picture books, easy readers, middle grade and young adult fiction, nonfiction, poetry collection and novelty and activity books.

Caxton Press, founded in 1925, focuses on “Western Americana,” specifically non-fiction “that deals with the people or culture of the West, past and present.” You can search their catalog by region or by topic (cookbooks, fiction, historical fiction, native Americans, juvenile classics, outdoor adventure, politics and economics, women making history, and writers/poetry).

Channel Photographics specializes in photographic books and children’s art editions. In other words, beautiful books.

Charles Fields Publishing was founded by New England photographer Charles Fields whose books represent some of the finest of fine art photography books and books of essays that celebrate Cape Cod.

Chelsea Green is the perfect “spring” publisher. Their focus is “sustainable living books,” that is, books on the practice of sustainable living. What kinds of books are they? Those that cover renewable energy, green building, organic agriculture, eco-cuisine and ethical business.

Children's Book Press focuses on multicultural and bilingual books for children. With America more than ever a land of many cultures and with the world becoming ever more interconnected with lands and people beyond our shores, the opportunity to explore stories that reflect that grows. CBP’s books page shows that they offer books in the general categories of African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latino, Multicultural, and Native American.

Cinco Puetos Press publishes “great books which make a difference in the way you see the world.” To be more specific, this literary press specializes in literature (children and young adults, poetry, fiction and nonfiction) from the U.S./Mexico border, the American southwest, and Mexico.

City Lights Publishers is an offshoot of the famous San Francisco bookstore. It was founded in 1955 and has, in the time since then, published nearly 200 books of “cutting-edge fiction, poetry, memoirs, literary translations and books on vital social and political issues” This is a publishing house that challenges the norm and invites discourse. Its categories include (but are not limited to) biography/memoir, California writers, cultural studies, essays, gay & lesbian, literature in translation, politics, surrealism, travel, women.

Cleis Press publishes “provocative, intelligent books in the areas of sexuality, gay and lesbian studies, erotica, fiction, gender studies, and human rights.” So this publisher is not for the timid. However, if you enjoy  strong stories and excellent  nonfiction, you can find it here.

Cloverfield Press is a boutique house that creates visually beautiful small books, ranging from eleven to forty-five pages, each one with a single short story and a stunning original illustration. Both the interiors and exteriors are specifically designed to match the stores. It is easy to see that their model is Hogarth Press, the house founded by Virginia and Leonard Woolf.

Concord Free Press truly is a unique house, and I am not sure how they do it. They “reconceptualize the very goals of publishing” by giving away their books. Really. All they ask in return is that you make a donation to a charity or someone in need, list it on their page, and then give the book to someone else when you are done with it.

Counterpoint is the result of three notable independent presses—Counterpoint, Shoemaker &  Hoard, and Soft Skull—being merged. Under the various names they publish books in Fiction & Mystery, Memoir, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Essay, Graphic Stories, Current Events, Religion & Spirituality, Film, Nature & Environment (including Sierra Club books), Music, and Travel.

Craigmore Creations is a house specializing in picture books and graphic novels with a twist: they “inspire an interest in earth science and natural history.”

Creative Homeowner is a niche market press, specializing in books related to the house and home. Their titles cover all aspects of decorating and design, home repair and improvement, gardening and landscaping, home arts, and other outdoor pursuits.

Crippen and Landru is a mystery publishing house that specializes in short story collections of new works as well as re-issued classics: the modern era or the nineteenth century, the hardboiled detective or the amateur sleuths, an American setting or a South African one. It’a all here.

Cune Press specializes in serious but “engaging” nonfiction on topics of “public importance.” Their mission is to create books that “bridge the cultures” by “promoting insight, dialogue and mutual understanding within the US and beyond.” Among their specialties are African American, American Life, Anti-War, Arab & Islamic Culture, Art & Design, Essays & Memoir, Fiction & Poetry, History, Humor, Jewish Culture, Middle East and Africa, Oral History, Reading & Writing, Syria, Theater, and Travel.

Daniel & Daniel Publishers is the parent company to three excellent imprints. The primary one, John Daniel & Company, publishes only four books a year in the field of belles lettres, fiction, poetry, memoir, and essays. Perseverance Press is their whodunit arm with high-quality literary mysteries. Fithian Books is a co-publishing venture (the author contributes to the cost of publishing) but what makes this particular press different from the usual vanity ones is that the publisher is selective about the books issued under this name and a number of them have been reviewed in trade publications. Any genre is eligible.

David R. Godine, Publisher publishes only twenty to thirty books a year, but like most high-quality small publishers specializes in books that reflect his own tastes and interests, a list he says of “original fiction and non-fiction of the highest rank, rediscovered masterworks, translations of outstanding world literature, poetry, art, photography, and beautifully designed books for children” that is “deliberately eclectic . . . and features works that many other publishers can't or won’t support, books that won't necessarily become bestsellers but that still deserve publication.”

Dawn Publications is a publisher of books “connecting children and nature,” but they are much more than that. For one, their books cover various age ranges (1-4, 5-9, and 10-14 with some books for adults/teachers). It’s easy to see their focus in this part of their mission statement: We aim to reach the hearts as well as minds of children. As nature publishers our material is essentially non-fiction, but usually told with such an engaging style and illustrated with such magical art that most of our books are probably best described by that budding genre, “creative non-fiction.” Each of our products is a unique window into the web of life that, grounded in nature, weaves us all together.

Deer Valley Press is a California publisher, focusing on fire training guides, trail guides,four-wheeling books, and some history.

Dorothy: A Publishing Project is “dedicated to works of fiction or near fiction or about fiction, mostly by women. We want to publish books that, whether conventional or un-, are uniquely themselves, that do not lean against preconceived ideas of what is wonderful, but brilliantly and purposefully convince us they are, themselves, wonderful.”

Dundurn Press is one of Canada’s largest publishers with more than 100 new titles each year particularly in the areas of Canadian heritage, natural history, biography and art.. For those outside Canada, their books offer an outstanding opportunity to learn about Canadian literature and nonfiction. 

Dzanc Books was created, as their website notes, “to advance great writing and champion those writers who don’t fit neatly into the marketing niches of for-profit presses.”

Edgewise Press is probably not a press you have heard of but if you enjoy books in the areas of  in the areas of art, art criticism, aesthetics, philosophy, fiction, and verse. Their books are of particularly high quality, being first edition paperbacks which are sewn, bound and printed in Turin, Italy.

Egmont USA is an American children’s and YA book publisher whose parent company, Egmont Group, is “one of Scandinavia’s leading media groups, with activities including film, TV production, and interactive games.”

Encounter Books publishes “serious books for serious readers” in the fields of biography & memoir, business & entrepreneurship, cultural criticism, current events, education & family, history, politics & international relations, religion & ethics, medical ethics & biotech.

Enigma Books publishes “significant works 2oth Century History for all readers, students and scholars.” That doesn’t mean textbooks. Rather, their works of both fiction and nonfiction are intended for those with a serious interest in history who demand excellent writing.

Epicenter Press publishes nonfiction books on and about Alaska, more than one hundred titles to date that cover “history, memoirs and biographies, adventure, aviation, humor, true crime, mystery and the unexplained, sled dog mushing, women’s stories, Native American culture, and more.”

Essay Press is a somewhat unusual house with a lot of common sense. It focuses on a nonfiction niche market, that market being “artful, innovative, and culturally relevant essays in book form.” These are essays too long for journals or magazines but too short for most book manuscript guidelines, generally running between forty and eighty pages. “We particularly welcome work,” they note, “that extends or challenges the formal protocols of the nonfiction essay—including, but not limited to, lyric essays or prose poems, experimental biography and autobiography, innovative approaches to journalism, and experimental historiography.”

Europa Editions is a highly regarded publisher of works in translation. Their genres  should satisfy a number of readers including those who favor “literary fiction, high-end mystery and noir, children’s illustrated fiction, narrative non-fiction, and memoir.”

Evening Post Books celebrates the South by publishing “high quality literary fiction and non-fiction written by authors hailing from and writing about the South Carolina Lowcountry.”

The Experiment is a relatively new independent publisher that focuses on “a wide range of nonfiction—much of it practical—including food (and how to grow, cook, and enjoy it), health and fitness, psychology and personal development, parenting, relationships, sexuality, personal finance, science, and nature.”

Exterminating Angel Press takes its name from a film El Angel Exterminador. This tiny press publishes books that offers “creative solutions for practical idealists.”

Faber Finds is a UK house whose motto is “Bringing Great Writing Back Into Print.” The house had T.S. Eliot as an advisor early one and published his Poems 1909-1925. Other early authors included Erza Pound, Vita Sackville-West. Siegfried Sassoon, W. H. Auden, James Joyce and Walter de la Mare. It expanded into biographies, memoirs, fiction, poetry, political and religious essays, art and architecture monographs, children’s books.

Featherproof Books is a young independent Chicago publisher that is “dedicated to the small-press ideals of finding fresh, urban voices” in “full-length works of fiction and downloadable mini-books.” The latter are free and come with instructions on how to make the printed PDFs into an origami mini-book.

Felony & Mayhem Press is the name of a mystery publisher that specializes in new and reissued mysteries in the following sub-genres: British, espionage, foreign, hard-boiled, historical, traditional, and vintage.

Feminist Press is a nonprofit literary publisher that “promotes freedom of expression and social justice” by publishing “exciting authors who share an activist spirit and a belief in choice and equality. They further describe their books as “innovative, often surprising [ones] that tell a different story.”

Flashlight Press specializes in children’s picture books “that explore and illuminate.” In other words, their books deal with universal themes in family and social situations. If you have children ages 4-8, they are worth checking out.

Frederic C. Beil, Publisher is a small but active house founded in 1982 in Savannah, Georgia. It focuses on beautifully-produced books in the genres of history, biography, and fiction.

Fulcrum Publishing is derived from the meaning of its name which, in the world of physics, denotes the point at which motion begins. So their books, which include Children’s, Culture & Lifestyle, Environment & Nature, Fiction & Memoir, Gardening, History, Native American, Outdoors & Travel, and Politics & Public Policy, are meant to help their readers “live life to the fullest and learn something new every day.” In other words they want to inspire their readers to move forward or take action.

Gemma, whose motto is “People and Places and the Spaces in Between,” focuses on cultural memoirs from around the world, Irish fiction and journalism, and current affairs “with diversity at the heart of the story.”

Gibbs-Smith’s motto—“To Enrich and Inspire Humankind”—is a good description of their books. The company began as a textbook publisher but the company’s line has grown to focus on architecture, art & photography, business, children’s, coking & entertaining, crafts & hobbies, humor, gardening, green living & energy, inspiration, literature, pop culture, pets, outdoor survival, regional, and western.

Gival Press is an independent house that focuses on fiction, nonfiction and poetry that “has a message, be it philosophical or social.”

Green Integer Press has one of the most intriguing mission statements I have ever seen from a publisher: “Essays, Manifestos, Statements, Speeches, Maxims, Epistles, Diaristic Jottings, Narratives, Natural histories, Poems, Plays, Performances, Ramblings, Revelations, and all such ephemera as may appear necessary to bring society into a slight tremolo of confusion and fright at least.” The publisher focuses on works by leading artists, critics, and historians both contemporary and past ones put into an unusual format size—6" x 4.25"—making them easy to carry.

Graywolf Press is one the most successful and well known of the independent publishers—and with good reason. The house began in 1974 with a hand-set, hand-printed poetry book. Between then and now, Graywolf has expanded its list to include novels, short stories, memoirs, essays, and poetry. It has received important awards and recognition for its commitment to quality, and today it is considered one of the nation's leading nonprofit literary publishers.

Hard Case Crime publishes, not surprisingly, crime fiction, specifically the hardboiled sub-genre that utilizes original cover art in the “grand pulp” style of the early-to-mid twentieth century. Expect women to have large breasts barely concealed, tight shirts and silk-sheathed legs (when dressed) whether they are dead or alive, and the men to be well-suited (also when dressed), hard-bodied, and handsome in the 1940s style. While you will find many well-known names here, there are also lesser known writers sharing their flair for the noir.

Harper Design is an imprint of the large publishing house HarperCollins. It’s focus is books “that celebrate the aesthetics and culture of the world around us from pop culture and music to architecture and interior design to art and photography.” The categories span many areas in both fiction and nonfiction.

Harvard University Press, while still publishing works of academic interest, also has a wide and fascinating variety of books in forty-two categories from architecture to travel.

Hawthorne Books publishes American literary fiction and narrative nonfiction as well as books in translation. Their books are physically exquisite: trade paperbacks with acid-free papers, sewn bindings, and heavy, laminated covers with doubt-scored French flaps. But the material is equally impressive.

Hesperus Press offers several series including Hesperus Classics (neglected and never-before-translated classic works), Modern Voices (neglected works from the twentieth century), Contemporary Fiction (translations of prize-winning work), Brief Lives (short, authoritative biographies of literary figures), On (collections of short pieces of nonfiction), Poetic Lives (biographies of celebrated poets), and Brief Histories (cultural phenomena).

Heyday Books, specializes in “books that foster an understanding of California history, literature, art, environment, social issues, and culture” in both fiction and nonfiction. This house is one of the mainstays of the literature of California (especially the central area) with their emphasis on presenting the state’s literary wealth.

Hippocampus Press is a publisher devoted to the works of Lovecraft and other “weird classic horror” tales. Their Lovecraft offerings span fiction, nonfiction, collected letters, and books about him. The press even offers reprints of books from his library.

History Press is a bit unusual for a house with more than a few books in print. They focus on “preserving and enriching community by empowering local history enthusiasts to write local stories, for local audiences, as only a local can.” But it’s not just for one geographical area. Instead, this publisher, located in Charleston, South Carolina,  now has more than 500 books in print that cover local history in twenty-nine states from the east coast through the Midwest.

Horse & Buggy Press sounds like an old-fashioned publishing house full of old printing presses, men in ink-soaked aprons setting metal type, people banging away on non-electric typewriters, and editors with green eyeshades and red pencils hunched down over desks drenched in paper. But is an award-winning graphic design and letterpress studio established in North Carolina in 1996. They are not a book publisher per se as they work on a diverse range of print projects, but their books are special. The editions are very limited and the books are made using the letterpress.

Holy Cow! Press is one of a number of regional presses that focus on a particular location. In this case, it’s the upper Midwest. Established in 1977 and housed in Duluth, Minnesota, their “primary goal has been to publish the very best collections of Midwest writings we can find and develop an audience for those books regionally and nationally.” Their list tends to be wide and includes poetry, short fiction, memoirs, novels, plays, children’s and young adult titles, biographies and anthologies centered around important themes.

In-Depth Editions is a small press specializing in nonfiction books that “offer a deeper look at the roots of regional and national history,” though their beginnings as a partner of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates means they publish a lot of titles about Michigan’s submerged maritime heritage.

Insight Editions focuses on what is termed coffee table books, those fantastically-created and lavishly-illustrated books on "photography, music, and popular culture. Every volume, they say, is “dedicated to the skillful interplay of word and image . . . [and] showcase the best of art and photography in exquisite presentations of the bookmaker's craft.”

John F. Blair, Publisher focuses on books on the southeastern part of the country in the categories of Appalachian, Bio/Memoir. Children/Young Adult, Civil War, Coastal, Cultural Heritage, Current Events/Politics, Educational, Environment/Nature, Fiction, Folklore/Ghosts, Food & Wine, Gift & Hobby, Historical, Humor, Music, North Carolina, Photography & Art, Poetry, Sports & Recreation, Travel & Outdoors, True Crime.

Kearney Street Books is a regional press located in Bellingham, Washington. It is a fine example of a small, independent house with high-quality books and a specialized focus, in this case, music. It publishes books by or about musicians or music—but note that these include music themes while not necessarily being about music.

Kore Press was founded by the collaborative effort of a book designer and a poet who, influenced by the Women in Print movement of the 1960s and 1970s, have created a house that focuses on “excellent works of literary and artistic value by a diversity of women.” It terms itself a feminist-literary-arts-press that publishes bilingual, lyric, and politically-voiced poetry, personal essays, prose, and manifestos.

Lake Isle Press specializes in quality nonfiction, specifically cooking, health, and art-related titles.

Lark Books is for the crafty among us. Or at least those with an interest in crafts, home decorating, cooking, and outdoor living. They publish a huge array of practical advice books that are straightforward and clear.

Leapfrog Press focuses on books of literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, books that “expand our webs of connection with other humans and the natural world; books that illuminate our complexities; tough, unsentimental books about our difficult and sometimes insanely funny choices in life and how we make them.”

Library of America is known for publishing a surprisingly wide variety of genres and authors including Early American History and Founding Fathers; The Civil War; World War II; 19th and 20th Century Novels; 19th and 20th-Century Stories and Sketches; 19th and 20th Century Essays and Criticism; 19th and 20th Century Poetry; African American Writers; Southern Writers; Women Writers; Biography and Memoir; Fantasy, Science Fiction & Horror; Film & Screenplays; Journalism; Letters; Mystery & Crime; Music & Lyrics; Nature Writing; Oratory; Religion & Spirituality; Social Sciences; Theater & Plays; Travel Writing; Illustrated Books; Thematic Anthologies.

Little Books/Max Press, began as Little Books, which issued “natty, concise books to fit in your pocket, authored by a glittering array of contemporary, well-known authors.” As its name implies, it has gone on to add Max Press, which focuses on serious nonfiction, biography, travel, and history in both small and substantial editions.

Longitude Books offers reading for travelers, be they on-the-road types or armchair travelers. Their books include classic accounts of exploration, travel narratives, art & archaeology, novels, essays, hard-to-find maps, and field guides.

Lookout, the literary book imprint from the University of North Carolina’s Dept. of Creative Writing focuses on “emerging and historically underrepresented voices, as well as works by established writers overlooked by commercial houses,” calling itself a “haven for books that matter.” What’s particularly unusual is that they do not select manuscripts from a submissions pile, but instead solicit them from the pool of writers who have previously published in their literary magazine, Ecotone.

Lyons Press focuses on books about the outdoor life, regional interest (mostly Connecticut, Kentucky, West Virginia), Special Interests, and Travel.

Mage Publishers specializes in English-language editions of books on Persian literature and culture, books that bring “to readers outside Iran and around the globe the best of the Persian arts and history.”

Mainstream Publishing is a Scottish house that was founded in the late 1970s. (In 2005, it partnered up with mega-publisher Random House.) It focuses primarily on nonfiction, including but not limited to true crime, cookery, biography and memoir, sports, Irish interests, Scottish interests, politics, and history. But its fiction selection is large too.

Mark Batty Publishers specializes in books on the “visual art of communicating, showcasing the visual power and innovation of contemporary culture in all its varied poses.” What does that mean? An eclectic selection of books.

Mayapple Press focuses on “literature not often celebrated by either the mainstream or the avant-garde. This includes poetry which is both challenging and accessible; women’s writing; the rustbelt/rural culture that stretches from the Hudson Valley to the Great Lakes; the recent immigrant experience; poetry in translation; science fiction poetry.”

McFarland publishes books that fall into two arenas: academic and nonfiction. The latter includes books that are bound to be of interest to general readers since they offer ones in the areas of pop culture and performing arts, sports and leisure, military history, body and mind, humanities, history, social sciences, genre (adventure, detective and mystery, horror, science fiction and fantasy, and western) and more.

McSweeney’s began in 1998 as a literary journal edited by Dave Eggers, focusing on works rejected by other magazines. Since then it has gone on to publish quite a few well-known writers and has become one of the most popular literary magazines around.  Their book division has published nearly three dozen books that have won awards and attention. Four imprints make up this division: Rectangulars (fiction series, featuring original works by writers varying wildly in style and subject matter, but all pushing the form forward); Believer Books (collections of works from some of the magazine’s most popular contributors; also publishes foreign language books in English for the first time); Collins Library (handsome reprints of forgotten classics); the Irregulars(the humor line offering irregular books of irregular content appearing at irregular intervals).

Melville House Publishing came about in an unusual way—it was born out of the book blog, MobyLives. And it does more than publish books, though it does that very well. Among their categories are biography novellas, current events, fantasy, literature and fiction, food, graphic novels, history, journalism, philosophy, poetry, and translations.

Mercier Press is an Ireland-based publisher that press publishes books “critically important to Irish life and culture.” In the early part of the twentieth century books in and about Ireland actually came from London so Mercier’s founders determined to change that. They were the first publisher to challenge accepted Catholic dogma, and it led the way in books that opened up new religious thinking until the Second Vatican Council sat in late 1962. They then turned their attention to Irish interest books.

Milkweed Press, a respected nonprofit publishing house that was established in 1980, specializes in what it terms “transformative literature” that “builds an engaged community around it.”  Its financial support, in addition to its book sales, also comes from donations from institutions and individuals, thus allowing it to publish books “on the basis of their literary quality and transformative potential.” What does this mean in terms of reading? The genres are fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and young readers.

MVP Books is the imprint of Quayside Publishing Group that focuses on sports books: baseball, basketball, football, hockey, cycling, boating, watersports, golf, tennis, boxing, fishing, hunting, and other sports. These are not only  not entirely “how-to” books; what you’ll find include biographies, history, photography, travelogues, stories and essays, and more.

National Geographic publishes a wide array of wonderful books in Adventure & Exploration, Animals & Nature, Culture, Geography & Reference, History, Photography, and Science & Space.

NESFA Press (New England Science Fiction Association)  is an unusual choice here because it doesn’t in any way meet the definition of a trade publisher. Instead, it publishes books “by the guest of honor at selected conventions—usually Boskone and occasionally the Worldcon.” In addition, they also publish classic science fiction that would otherwise be out of print and occasionally “reference books of science fiction and science fiction fandom.”

Newmarket Press is a fairly large trade publishing house that is independently owned. It doesn’t report to anyone so what you’ll find here are (mostly) nonfiction books in the areas of childcare & parenting, film & performing arts, psychology, health & nutrition, biography, history, business & personal finance, and popular self-help & reference. They issue between twenty and thirty new books every year.

The New Press was established in 1990 as a not-for-profit house specializing in “innovative ways works of educational, cultural, and community value that, despite their intellectual merits, may be deemed insufficiently profitable by commercial publishers. . . .  [and] to provide ideas and viewpoints under-represented in the mass media.” As such, you will find serious books about significant subjects in the areas of arts/culture/film, criminal justice/law, ecology/health, fiction/literature, gender studies, human rights, labor studies, media/journalism, Middle East, political science, U.S. history, and more.

The New York Review of Books is not often thought of as a publisher, but it partially is. Its publishing arm has three divisions. NYRB Classics publishes books that focus on “outstanding fiction and nonfiction from all ages and around the world,” from authors as diverse as Euripides and Dante to Vaily Grossman and Mavis Gallant, from  literary criticism to cookbooks. NYRB Collections offers books that brings together essays that have been published by NYRB contributors. The sharp, incisive  debates that define the publication can now be had in book form. The New York Review Children’s Collection issues reprints of what it terms “great” books for children in beautiful hardbound editions with stunning illustrations. These are probably best for slightly older children who can appreciate the beauty of the books.

Night Shade Books, as its name suggests, publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror since 1997. Now with over 200 books, it is a well-established house for those who like their fiction “out there.” What’s particularly nice about them is that they aggressively seek out new authors who meet the high standards they set so readers are sure to find the “authors of tomorrow” today.

Nomad Press specializes in nonfiction books “dedicated to sparking the interest of young readers in the fascinating world around them.” Their books span a lot of interests and include hands-on projects that are designed to explore the subjects’ history and science. You can view their books by age, grade, series, or subject.

North Country Books focuses on books about New York State and New England through history, biography, folklore, children’s, nature, field and trail guides, art, rustic furniture, cookbooks, and photography.

Numina Press is a boutique house with two divisions: one that focuses on contemporary works “deemed to have outstanding literary or scientific value,” and the other that re-publishes forgotten classics.

Oak Knoll Press (along with its partner, Oak Knoll Books) specializes in old and current books about books about “book collecting, book selling, bibliography, libraries, publishing, private press printing, fine printing, bookbinding, book design, book illustration, calligraphy, graphic arts, marbling, papermaking, printing, typography and type specimens plus books about the history of these fields.”

Oceanview Publishing is an independent house specializing in original mystery, thriller, and suspense books. They opened in 2006 and have, in five years, amassed a reputation for high quality.

Octane Press publishes “engaging narratives and lavish illustrated books designed for enthusiast readers. We cater to niche audiences that range from motorcycle adventure riders and vintage auto racing enthusiasts to architecture congnoscente and polar exploration fanatics.”

Orange Frazer Press is a regional press that focuses on the state of Ohio, specifically  “Ohiocentric nonfiction.”

Osprey Publishing is a British house focusing on military history covering nearly the entire period of human history from ancient to modern as well as specialties in aviation and naval.

Pangaea is an independent house that “diverse regions of nature, paths of human understanding and world cultures in transition.” Their books cover subjects as diverse as the Mississippi River and the street children of Guatemala.

Paris Press was founded to publish the “work of women writers that has been neglected or misrepresented by the literary world.” They focus on quality, publishing only one to three “daring and beautiful” books of all genres per year. Here you will find poetry, fiction, nonfiction and memoirs.

Paul Dry Books offers “Books to Awaken, Delight, and Educate.”  It may be a small house with less than sixty books published over ten years, but the books themselves—a mix of fiction, both novels and short stories, poetry, nonfiction that includes biography, memoirs, and history, and essays cover subjects from Homer, Ovid and Chekhov to bird watching, jazz, shogunate Japan, mathematics, and philosophy.

Peachtree Publishers issues a wide range of topics in their books, but what they have in common is their geographical location. Their specialties include titles for children (picture and chapter books); young adult fiction and nonfiction’ self-help titles in education, parenting psychology and health; books about the South (including hiking, fishing, and walking guides); and occasionally cooking, gardening, gift books, and humor.

Pegasus Books specializes in books that “stimulates both the intellect and the imagination, be it history or philosophy, memoir or biography, literary fiction or noir thrillers,” a statement that supports their belief that “good literature is essential to the health of our cultural life.”

Penfield Books publishes books “of interest to those of Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Irish, Italian, Mexican, Norwegian, Polish, Scandinavian, Scottish, Slovak, Swedish, and Ukrainian descent.” Their titles cover a wide range of interests. In addition to the those named above, they also cover other ethnicities, Amana Colonies, Amish, Arts & Crafts, Cookbooks, Dictionaries/Languages, Folklore, Humor, Iowa, Isak Dinesen, Minnesota, Photographic Art & Books, Proverb Series, Vikings, and more.

Penguin Classics is one of my favorite publishing houses. True, it’s part of a publishing empire (Penguin Group, USA: Penguin Group: Pearson, an international media company), but its focus is exclusively classical literature. They offer Deluxe Editions, which include beautiful designs with French flaps, the stunning Graphic Deluxe Editions, and the special Hardcover Classics that feature gorgeous patterns stamped on linen cases, colored endpapers, and ribbon markers.

Perceval Press is somewhat unusual in that they publish both books and CDs, and you have to wade through both by title rather than being able to do a search by subject matter. That makes them a bit annoying, but it shouldn’t put readers off too far because they do have some great books in poetry, Spanish-language books, essays, politics and more.

Persephone Books is a British publisher concentrating “mainly [on] neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women” . . . “books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial.” They include novels, short stories, diaries, and cookery books.

Plicata Press is a small press located in the Pacific Northwest. Its focus is on “literature that contributes to our culture and humanity whether delivered as fiction, nonfiction or poetry . . . novels where setting is a strong character, whether its an actual or invented place . . . memoir that inspires, humor that’s universal and poetry that touches our emotions.”

Poisoned Pen Press began when the owners of the Poisoned Pen bookstore found the books they loved to sell being published less and less. Originally they set up a print-on-demand model to re-publish out of print stories but they soon moved into original fiction. Today, their catalog features more than 500 quality books that range from cozies and historical mysteries to contemporary and even police procedurals.

PoliPoint Press is a politically and socially activist publisher that offers “progressive books on politics, culture, and sustainability.” They seek to contribute to important discussions by adding fresh perspectives to national political dialogue. And their books reflect that determination.

Press 53 is a small independent publisher in North Carolina that specializes in high quality short story collections, creative nonfiction/memoir “that absolutely knocks us out,” narrative poetry that shares a story or tells an experience, and re-issues of out of print classics.

Pushkin Press focuses on “publishing translations of classic and contemporary European literature that changes the way you look at the world.” Their books reflect passion, they say, whether that be “the passion of the enthusiast who recommended and who passed on his particular joy in the author to us and who inspired us to publish sometimes esoteric and little-known masterpieces and the passion for life and love questioning that all our authors confront.”

Quantuck Lane Press publishes gorgeous books on fine art photography, art and “the eccentric, whether illustrated or not.”

Quarry Press is one of the imprints of the Quayside Publishing Group, and it focuses on  practical general reference books in  for enthusiast in Home & Style, Cooking, Crafts & Hobbies, and Pets.

Quail Ridge Press specializes in cookbooks and books about food and food history. “Preserving America’s Food Heritage” is their motto, and that is evident by their home page. But they don’t focus exclusively on cookbooks. In addition to their Best of the Best State Cookbook Series (covering all fifty states), also offer the Recipe Hall of Fame Series and a choice of other regional and national cookbooks as well as gift, inspiration, and other selections.

RDR Books is celebrating its fifteenth year in business in 2009, and it certainly is worthy of a celebration. They publish widely, but not indiscriminately, allowing them to focus on quality in travel literature (especially the I Should Have Stayed Home series), Judaica, history, biography, education, sports, and children’s literature.

Rockport Publishers is an imprint of Quayside Publishing Group. It offers books in the areas of Architecture, Art, Business and Economics, Comics and Graphic Novels, Design, House and Home, Nature, and Technology and Agriculture.

Santa Monica Press likes pop culture. A lot. It’s not the only thing they publish, but you’ll find a lot of it here.

Sarabande Books is a small house specializing in short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The word sarabande, they note, “is a gracious, elegant dance with a sensual, wild underside: gracious and elegant thanks to the Germans and French, sensual and wild thanks to its origins as an Aztec mating ritual. Sarabande Books looks for work that is, like the dance, both graceful and provocative.”

Shadow Mountain Publishing issues several genres of books: children’s fantasy and picture books and adult inspiration, fiction, history, and business. Its mission is to provide “books that offer values-based messages that strengthen individuals, families, and society.”

Skyhorse Publishing, founded in 2006, is a relatively new house. It has four imprints (Arcade Publishing, Allworth Publishing, Sports Publishing, and Sky Pony Press) and has already published more than 2,000 titles in a wide variety of genres in fiction and nonfiction.

Silver Dolphin Press publishes wonderful activity, novelty and educational nonfiction books for preschoolers to twelve-year-olds. These tend to be books that engage and educate at the same time.

Stackpole Books began as a small, family-owned publishing house in the 1930s. From those humble roots it has grown to a good size house that issues books on nature, outdoor sports, crafts and hobbies, military reference, history, and Pennsylvania.

Starbright Books is for children, or at least their books are. And their specialty is multicultural, bilingual and foreign language books in sixteen languages (some bilingual, some monolingual). Their books come in hardcover, paperback, and as board books (for young readers). There are even special books for children with disabilities, and unique books that are “not just for kids.”

Steerforth Press is somewhat unusual in that its focus is not a genre but “worth.” In their words, they publish “a wide range of works on a variety of topics” that “engage the full attention of the reader, and [have] something new or important to say. Here is where you will find their hardcovers and “trade paperback editions of enduring works of nonfiction. Zoland, one of the two imprints, focuses on fiction, poetry and arts-related memoirs, while Steerforth Italia’s focus is, not surprisingly, Italy and Italian culture.

Storey Publishing focuses on books “for Country Living since 1983.” Located in North Adams, MA, near the New Hampshire border they are in the country themselves and so know of what they speak. Books cover subjects such as Gardening, Crafts, Food & Drink, House & Home, Pets, Equine, Animals & Farming, Nature & Outdoors, Well-Being, and Kids.

Subterranean Press is one of the best known publishers of horror, suspense, and dark mystery genres. Since they specialize in collector’s editions, some of their prices are high, but many books can be purchased at “normal” prices.

Sunbelt Publications focuses on books that celebrate the “Sunbelt lifestyle” In other words, they publish primarily nonfiction books about California, Baja California, and the Southwest in Art/Architecture, California Desert, Children/YA, Earth Sciences, Fiction, Memoir/Biography, History/Lore, Home/Garden/Cookbooks, Native Americans, Nature/Ecology, Sports/Travel/Outdoors, and more.

Swan Isle Press publishes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that “inspires and educations while advancing the knowledge and appreciation of literature, art, and culture.” Its special interest is in books related to the Spanish and Latin American versions. These are bi-lingual books, that is, they are printed in the original Spanish with English translations so readers have the opportunity to  see and read the original words alongside the translation.

Tachyon Publications, the “home of smart science fiction and fantasy,” is a publishing house with a delightful sense of the quirky.

Tara Books, located in India, publishes handmade picture books for both adults and children, noting that it has a “select list that straddles diverse genres, offering our readers unusual and rare voices in art and literature.”

Tartarus Press is a London publisher that specializes in the supernatural. Unlike many others, however, this publisher believes in understated, elegant covers—uniform cream with minimal decoration. Inside are stories from authors famous (Edith Wharton, H.G. Wells, William Hope Hodgson) and obscure ones, but they all offer excellent reading.

Tauris Parke Paperbacks is a UK publisher focusing on the serious general reader who is interested in biography, history, travel, art, politics, international relations, current affairs, religion, film and visual culture, and the ancient world. It also has an excellent reputation for its work on the Middle East and the Islamic world.

Ten Speed Press, formerly an independent nonfiction publisher most famous for the Moosewood cookbooks, became part of a corporate entity when its founder became ill. Still, it maintains its reputation for publishing award-winning cookbooks, career and business titles (including What Color is Your Parachute?), and an eclectic list of “genre-bending titles.”

Texas Review Press, founded in 1976, publishes “the very best fiction, poetry, scholarship, review, and creative nonfiction available” not necessarily focused on Texas.

Thunder Bay Books publishes nonfiction promotional books in a wide variety of areas including architecture, cooking, sports, history, transportation, and nature.

Timber Press, located in Oregon, specializes in gardening, horticulture, natural history, and the Pacific Northwest. Even if you don’t live in their area, they have excellent books that will work for any passionate gardener.

Travelman is a UK publisher, but not of books. Instead they have a unique niche—works of classic and modern fiction and nonfiction printed on a single sheet of paper  and folded like a map. Elegant pen illustrations accompany the text. Despite its format, it is designed to be opened and read like a book. The stories are published in numbered series and colored-coded into categories: Adventure, Classics, Comedy, Crime, First Edition, Romance, Science Fiction, Sex, and Suspense.

Turtle Point Press publishes “forgotten literary fiction . . .  contemporary fiction and poetry by writers whose work is both unique and irresistibly readable” in beautifully-designed editions. (Turtle Point also publishes nonfiction.)

Turtle Books specializes in illustrated children’s books in both English and Spanish editions.  And they are beautifully illustrated.

Turner Publishing is an independent publisher with a diversified list in both fiction and nonfiction. They have several imprints, each focusing on a specific area. Iroquois Press, for example, is for fiction and literature.

Two Dollar Radio is one of the least-sounding publisher names I think I have ever run across. Yet this family-run house is also one of the better small houses around, one whose mission  “is to reaffirm the literary, cultural, and artistic ambitions of the publishing industry.” Because of its emphasis on quality, it has gotten major attention from publications like the Los Angeles Times, O Magazine, the Boston Globe, Book Forum, and more. But the house itself is less known to the reading public who would likely be inclined to say, “Who?” So we’re out to tell you what they do for you, the reader. Well, they offer some damn good books.

Tyrus Books focuses on crime fiction, specifically stories that deal “with crime and its repercussions.” I like that at the top of their books page they note, “These are our weapons. Use them wisely.” There are quite a few, both newly issued and soon to be issued ones.

Umbrage Editions, in addition to other media, publishes wonderful books, many of which are companions to movies or exhibitions.

Unbridled Books describes itself as the “premier publisher of works of rich literary quality that appeal to a broad audience.” Hence, fiction, and from the looks of it something intriguing for everyone.

Watson-Guptill is a large publishing house, an arm of an even larger one, Random House. And as such it publishes a lot of books in a number of categories that I am just going to pick three. (If you like how-to books they have a large and excellent selection.)

Wesleyan University Press, like all university presses these days, has expanded its lists beyond academia. You’ll find high quality trade publications covering a huge variety of interests including, at Wesleyan, poetry, music and culture, dance and performance, early classics of science fiction, film and television, history, literature, American studies, and local, that is, Connecticut, history and culture. And more.

White Pine Press is a non-profit literary publisher, which publishes poetry, fiction, essays, and literature in translation. Their mission statement—to “enrich our literary heritage; to promote the cultural awareness, understanding, and respect so vital in our rapidly changing world; and to address complex social and human rights issues through literature”—is as beautiful as their books.

White Star Publishers is an Italian house that specializes in exquisite books in archaeology, art, nature, high technology, photography, ethnology, mountaineering, and marine biology. They began to publish books in English in 2001, and today you can find a lovely selection if you click on the Bookshop tab. To limit the search to English-language only books choose “English” under “Advanced Search: Language of Publication” and, if desired, preferred themes.

Wilderness Press is the publisher to visit if you are looking for outdoor books and maps in the areas of biking, books, camping, canoeing and kayaking, children’s, climbing, cooking, fishing, heath, hiking, home and garden, maps, nature, outdoor skills, special interests, sports and travel.

Wild River Press specializes in books about fly fishing. Exclusively. According to publisher Thomas R. Pero, he began the press because he wanted to “produce the finest books about fly fishing that I could . . . authentic . . . [with] compelling narrative . . .  well-written and crisply edited . . . beautifully designed and handsomely crafted.” 

Wildside Press is for those looking for off-beat books in the areas of “weird” (a unique genre), science fiction, fantasy, history, pulp reprints, art criticism, and other categories that range widely.

Yale Press is  a fine example of how university presses are evolving from their focus on academic books and now issuing books that are intended for and interesting enough tom complete in the trade arena.

Zenith Press is an imprint of Quayside Publishing, and focuses on military history (modern, Iraq & Gulf, cold war, WWI, WWII, Civil War, nineteenth century, Napoleonic wars, American Revolution, eighteenth century, medieval, ancient, general, special forces, law enforcement, aviation, naval, etc.) and civil aviation.

Zoland Books is an imprint of Steerforth Press, is where you’ll find all their fiction, poetry and arts-related memoirs.

 

Almost since her childhood days of Mother Goose, Lauren has been giving her opinion on books to anyone who will listen. That “talent” eventually took her out of magazine writing and into book reviewing in 2000 for an online review site where she cut her teeth (as well as a few authors). Stints as book editor for her local newspaper and contributing editor to Booklist and Bookmarks magazines has reinforced her belief that she has interesting things to say about books. Lauren shares her home with several significant others including three cats, nearly 1,300 bookmarks and approximately the same number of books that, whether previously read or not, constitute her to-be-read stack. She is a member of the National Books Critics Circle (NBCC) as well as a longtime book design judge for Publishers Marketing Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards. Contact Lauren.

 

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