So, I think chapbooks ought to be free. Generally, no one profits from chapbooks, and there's no distribution. So, you're either publishing for a coterie, which, why should you charge your coterie money [I have this objection to journals, like Todd Baron's old re*map, that only publish subscribers, meaning you have to pony up to get published (and various other things)], or you're publishing a coterie, which, why should anyone outside that coterie who is not a well - heeled critic (are there any?) buy the chapbooks?


Anonymous said…

Wow you really don't like a lot of things and you can't seem to get beyond that 1/4 or 1/2 inch strip called the spine of a stack of paper.

What is the page count of art?

No chapbooks, no broadsides, nothing handsewn, nothing labored over or well designed, well intentioned, made with care, necessity to share, to make one's language available. None of that.

And of course, no self-publishing. Lo.

And of course no poetry within. It could never be very fine from a chapbook.

Though of course so many of the best poems can fit on one or one half page. How many fine poems can fit on 36-64 pages? Plenty.

But your rules are so very narrow. You do very much think a spine validates the work and what I mean is forget the spine, read the poems, talk about the poems, not the paradigm in which the format was made into shape.

A lot of people can get behind a few poems by a person. It's not about trying to chip a few bucks from your friends or your mom. What does a distributor do that a few individuals with integrity about the books (if ever modest) they produce, what exactly can they not do that a distributor can do to make the books available?

If one takes a few dollars for a small format book or bookLET, what's wrong with that? Fact is, better materials go into chapbooks more often than in perfect bound (POD ala SALT) books. If it helps someone or a group make more chapbooks and bookbooks and ultrafuckingTOMEbooks or if it helps someone buy a beer or raise money for a community or a family what is the difference?

Who do you want to give your money to?

But while you are complaining about that, don't forget the very fresh immanent poetry that is being circulated now in the form of chapbooks, journals, broadsides, etc, that is not being clogged up by slow publication schedules by larger houses as well as the distribution troubles you have described. Amazon and SPD etc are websites. On the other side of the website is a book. Books gets put in mail.

Hey these are things a person or persons can do, even if it is only their own self-published work. You don't like to get your hands dirty with producing or "hand selling" (!) though you'll wade through the log jam of the book publishers. The ones that do the spine. And I'm not knocking those publishers by any means. If being published is one's desire by all means, take it where you can get it. Plenty of people can publish in both worlds. Is it really two worlds like you make it?

And there's poetry happening away from the internet. And away from the open mics. (Who goes to open mics anyway?) There are graphic artists, printers, typesetters, editors, and writers very much at work outside of the validation machine (shaped like a bottle neck). Sometime these are the same person and very often they are not.

it's a quality of person that will let their work be printed and read no matter what the format. Not languishing is the thing. Not waiting on Barnes & Noble et alia.

Check the integrity of whomever hands you the next chapbook or broadside. Be delighted (or not!) by the work and the design therein. A book is a book. It's all there and poems too!

Scott Pierce
Anonymous said…
Generally, no one profits from chapbooks, and there's no distribution.

I guess, after reading your description of selling your book for under cost, and wrestling with SPD to get them to carry it, and having to pull shenanigans on B&N to have a few copies displayed for a short period... that I'm not sure how your experience with a "proper" book is any different.


Through much of this discussion of chapbooks vs. "real" books, it seems like when you think of chapbooks, you think of the worst examples of the format, whereas others think of their favorite chapbooks. A great chapbook is a special joy, because this small and ephemeral and obscure object contains something so wonderful. I like the brevity of a chapbook, which encourages me to read it again and again, and makes it easier for me to convince others to read it. (I also like huge encyclopedic works where I feel like there will always be new things for me to discover inside.)


I suspect legitimacy is conferred not through publication, but through criticism.


A large amount of the music I listen to these days was "published" (often self-published) on CDR. I'm pretty sure none of the artwork that I own has ever seen the inside of a gallery.


Of course I've long had a dream of releasing an album on some obscure Italian cassette-only label. I haven't had a dream of having a perfect-bound book of poems published, although that's laregly because the poetry of mine that I would most want published and legitimized is not best suited for book form.


Anyway this is all interesting.
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