Wednesday 9 September 2020

New titles, and some ridiculous numbers

Two new titles this month. Veilchenfeld, the first English translation of a novel by Gert Hofmann (Germany, 1930s: ‘It has happened little by little, as many things simply happen little by little, Mother said, and told us everything about Herr Veilchenfeld, as far as it was known to her’). Broken Consort, essays (on many different things under the sun) and reviews by Will Eaves, characterised by inquiry and generosity (‘We are taught by what we find … And what we find, we have to give away’).

These books will be noticed, god willing, and find readers. Sales of CBe books out of the distributor, Central Books, April to July 2018: 1,358 books. Same period, 2019: 1,472 books. Same period, 2020: 46 books. Between last year and this, that’s a drop of 97%.

Veilchenfeld will be a slow burner, perhaps: staying around, finding a few new readers year by year. Killing Auntie by Andrzej Bursa has been this: one of the very early CBe books, the original print run picked off over a decade in single figures. Some of the early CBe titles are now out of print, but this one is currently reprinting (re-set and with new cover, because the original files have given up the ghost). Sample spread here (the book also includes a short novel):
In the 1950s Bursa worked in Krakow with Tadeusz Kantor – who provides the epigraph (‘An object exists between eternity and the rubbish heap’) for Present Tense, an exhibition opening this week at Studio Expurgamento, with whom CBe co-published Blush – free entry but for social-distancing reasons you need to book a time.

One Good Thing over the past few months – both for me and, I hope, for those who have taken up the offer – has been the Lockdown Subscription: 10 books for £65, posted over 10 weeks. The first books were posted off on 31 March; anyone who subscribed in July is still receiving. New subscribers welcome – because lockdown isn’t really over until the fat lady sings, and that ain’t happening yet. Details on the website home page (you can specify which books you’d like; new titles included in the offer; UK only).

Next year’s programme is looking like this: poetry, memoir, memoir, essays. A novel will turn up, I’m betting on it. Thank you for your support.