Thursday, 9 December 2010
To Oxford yesterday, for coffee with the man who runs the Albion Beatnik bookshop in Walton Street and wine at a gathering for Tony Lurcock’s ‘Not So Barren or Uncultivated’ – which is not, as he pointed out, about his allotment – and more of the same at the pub afterwards.
Most mainstream publishers would consider the potential readership for a book about 18th-century British travellers in Finland (or, say, new translations of the prose poems of Francis Ponge) too small to bother with. Which is why a small press might want to publish these books. There’s little point in me publishing a novel, children’s book, etc, of the kind that bigger places publish; there are already so many of these for readers to choose from, and the bigger places have better distribution and marketing. But for a book that may be of interest to only 150 readers in the UK, I’m your man; all 150 will want a copy; my only problem is finding them.
It’s quite possible that Tony knows personally most of the potential buyers of the Finland book, or at least knows of them. Five arrived on the website today. I wish they didn’t all live in the Finland or the US; or rather, I wish people ordering from afar would notice the thing on the website suggesting the use of the Donate button for contributions to postage.
The solution to that may be – as the Albion Beatnik man suggested yesterday – to increase the price of the books. If the 150 people interested in Finland or Ponge or an experimental US novelist really do feel they need the book, they’re going to buy it whether it’s priced at £7.99 or £12.99. But that would put off the unconverted, and ideally I want some of them too, not just the already converted.