In the spring of 2011, my first book, Delta Days, Tales of the Mississippi Delta was published and introduced to the trade. The book was well received by a regional audience and supported by positive reviews and a summer of book signing events across the southeastern U.S. My agreement with the publisher indicated that the book would be available to the privately owned local bookstores through the traditional distribution systems and would be priced at a point that would allow these small, independent stores to competitively stock the book.
The reality is that the book was not available at competitive prices to this very important market and many of the stores that I signed in could not purchase books from the main distributors at a competitive discount. The publisher was indifferent to this situation and as a result the book did not reach the audience I had hoped for. This experience left me wondering how many other authors had faced the same indifference from a publisher and what could be done about it.
I began a research project to learn as much as I could about the publishing industry and what I discovered was very interesting. First, there was a major sea change taking place all across the publishing industry. The technological advances that have come about as a result of the transition from analog to digital composition and printing have leveled the playing field across the board.
Today, the small niche publisher not only can compete with the big name houses, but in many ways finds that it has a competitive advantage based on the ability to move quickly and nimbly. It is no longer enough to have the capital to support large initial editions using offset printing. Small digital printers can provide high quality books without a minimum run of thousands. This has changed the battle ground from design and production to sales and marketing.
I have spent most of my business career of some fifty years starting, owning and operating small businesses. When I realized that publishing was undergoing a systemic revolution, I recognized an opportunity. Chinaberry Press, LLC is the product of that opportunity. I, a business man and a writer, teamed up with my childhood friend Lisa Davis, to start Chinaberry Press. Lisa is a retired CPA and grammar maven. She carried me through senior English and on top of being smart, attractive and witty, she can spell. We make an awesome team.
Chinaberry Press will offer traditional publishing and a cooperative alternative. More information will be available on both of these options in future newsletter. In addition to publishing, we will sponsor an annual anthology of short stories by Southern authors as well as an anthology of original poems by Southern poets. Again, additional information will be forthcoming.
Chinaberry Press recognizes the important role that locally owned bookstores will play in the coming years. Books of regional interest, such as those to be published by Chinaberry Press, will rely primarily on the distribution and support of the local book stores. As a result, we are planning on working very closely with these dedicated people that are keeping an important tradition alive in our culture. We refer to our section devoted to the local bookstores as “Under the Chinaberry Tree.”
The Chinaberry Press website is currently under construction and will soon be up and running.