At the turn of the year, I was doing a series on publishers’ catalogs. It’s been a while since I did such a post, but the short version is that there are certain publishers who come out with lines so well-selected that I want to read literally every one of the books they’ve published. Small Beer Press deserves such kudos, and I’ve had a niggling guilt in the back of my mind for months that I started this series without getting around to posting on this great publisher.
As is often the case with great small publishers, I was introduced to Small Beer Press by an excellent local bookstore, Pandemonium Books and Games (in Central Square in Cambridge, for those living in or visiting the Boston area). I first encountered Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, a mind-blowing zine that I’ve written about here before that immediately entered my “purchase on sight” category. This zine is put out by Small Beer Press, and I just wish it came out more than twice a year.
Because of the zine, I’d been thinking about reading one of the press’s books, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Then, shortly before Christmas, the lovely Julia (an occasional Pandemonium employee who is always the source of deep hurt to my wallet whenever I see her) shoved Sean Stewart’s Mockingbird into my hand and told me that I must buy and read it at once. Julia informed me that Tyler, Pandemonium’s owner, had once said the same thing to her, and had guaranteed that if she didn’t like the book he would return her money. I bought the book, and proceeded to rant about Mockingbird to everyone I knew for the next three weeks. I am more of a short-story reader than a novel reader, but that book kicked off a streak of novels that continues to this day. It reminded me of how great it can be to be immersed in a fully-realized world. It is about voodoo and pregnancy. It is amazing.
Small Beer Press is kind enough to offer a number of DRM-free PDF free downloads. You can find them by poking around on the site. So, it’s possible to check out what they do without spending a dime. Then, of course, you should give them a lot of dimes so that they can keep giving us great books.
This is where it gets fun. I just want to point out that these editors seem to love lists the way I do. They offer a number of packages that appeal to the collector in me (and that are now on my wishlist). You can find them on this page, but they include “Every Small Beer Press Book So Far” (all 26 books published in the line, not including chapbooks, for $299 in paperback or $314 in hardcover), “Small Beer Press 2008” ($69 for all 5 paperbacks published in 2008, retail value $84), and “The Whole Small Beer Press Ebook Package” (20 books, a few issues of the zine, and some extras, on a flash drive, for $99.95). I’ve also always been amused by the LCRW subscriptions page, which includes, in addition to the usual boring deals, offers such as the “Insurance” subscription, $402 to get 4 issues of LCRW, a good chocolate bar with every issue, a random chapbook, and the feeling of pride at having paid the office insurance bill for the year.
Number of books in series so far: 26 (Not counting chapbooks or LCRW)
Number of books I’ve read: 1 (Not counting LCRW. But, yeah, I’ve got a lot of (great) reading ahead of me.)
Feature summary: Attractive books, great paper, quirky sense of humor, writers that play with the borders between genres.