Tuesday 10 January 2023

Plan B

Beginning in 2007 with four books and no intention to publish more, CBe has been humming along fine for 15 years: here a prize, there a shortlisting, quite often semi-silence but every one of the books was more than worth publishing.

It’s now 2023 and print costs have been escalating and postage costs too; there are other small presses who can sell X’s new novel or Y’s book of poems into bookshops better than CBe can; and I’m into my 70s and getting smaller. From this year CBe will concentrate on publishing, perhaps exclusively, small A-format books, the model being the three books published last year in that size and with covers with image on white card (Agota Kristof, The Illiterate; Caroline Clark, Own Sweet Time; myself, 99 Interruptions). This will mean goodbye to the brown covers (those books are more expensive to print: retro costs). It will mean hello to more short books: if prose, fiction or non-fiction, say 10 to 20,000 words (rough guide only). And poetry, yes: Cape Editions did poetry in A-format, and so now do NYRB.

It feels like a good time to change tack. For the first time in 15 years, I’m entering January without any new titles (other than one delayed from last year) in preparation.

An agent or mainstream publisher will probably tell you that a book of prose of between 10 and 20,000 words is not a thing at all. But there are many different ways to skin a cat. CBe has a track record of neither-fish-nor-fowl books which don’t fit easily into the traditional bookselling categories. Is it a duck, is it a donkey? It’s writing. I’m looking forward to seeing what this bastard word count may bring to the surface.

Meanwhile, 1: the Season Tickets (6 books for £40, 12 books for £75) are still up for grabs on the website homepage. Meanwhile, 2: The Camden Town Hoard, co-published with Studio Expurgamento, is the new must-have for this year. There Will Be A Party.