Thursday, January 08, 2009

Subscribe, Support

Much of the poetry (and indeed art and music), much of the "arts" that we have come to know and love has come to us via individuals who have been inspired to support their art form, to connect their work and the work of peers, to a larger audience. Some of those people have ended up creating bigger presses--Coach House Books, Anansi, Greywolf, Coffee House, Brick Books--and bigger galleries--Stephen Bulger, Monte Clark, Sonnabend, Cue, and magazines such as Geist, etc. But most of what we know as firm in our art worlds, in fact in our world, was born out of an individual passion for something, whether it was shoes, plumbing, money, or poems.

In these times of turmoil, economic and otherwise, it's important to remember the role of the individual. It's also important to remember that we have all, in our way, bought in to, and helped create the major disruptions of our own industry--by that I mean those of us who abandoned local book stores for, those of us who abandoned local music stores for iTunes; those of us who prefer to buy American or British poetry and not Canadian, or Canadian and British and not American, and so on; those of us who prefer not to buy music, but to "take it" for free, those of us who prefer to find texts on the net, rather than subscribe to journals, magazines, and presses.

Each of those decisions has a ripple effect in our communities. With that in mind, and with my own resolutions in mind, I bring up the idea of the subscription. Presses, from Coach House to Brick books are offering subscriptions now, and that's a good idea, but Coach House and Brick are also distributed. Other presses such as belladonna, for example, can pretty much only be found if you show up at a reading in New York, or you order a book directly from the series organizers. Presses such as BookThug in Canada, which is gaining strength by the month, are offering subscriptions too, on top of providing a way to buy smaller press articles online. These are presses that really do rely on reaching a direct audience.

If we want poetry to be a viable pursuit, then we need to support it. Which means we buy books, or we subscribe like any other subscription audience does--be it the symphony, the theatre or as a member of an art gallery, so that these small presses can actually fund their projects, whichever projects and/or presses you want to see around in the future, that's where you need to give your money now. It doesn't matter who you support, it only matters that you support someone. To be crass, it is a right-off. It is a professional expense.


Teresa Carmody said...

Sina -- Thanks for the call to subscribe. Here at Les Figues, we have a subscription membership -- for only $60 US, readers receive each of the titles in the current TrenchArt series.

Ugly Duckling Presse also has a subscription -- I think it's $100 US to receive every book they publish that year.

I know Les Figues absolutely would not exist if not for our subscribing members.


Teresa Carmody
Les Figues

Lemon Hound said...

Yes, you should have been on my list!!

Providence said...

Kenning Editions also offers subscriptions, a system which not only broadens access but optimizes the gross income a press receives from sales, which is why discounts are often enormous for those able to subscribe.

[You can subscribe via credit card, or using the form online and sending cash/check. The latter allows you to purchase back titles at a discount. Kenning began as a journal, so subscription was its basic model from the outset.]

Jennifer K Dick said...

Thanks for this message. I agree, the subscription options are GREAT. One of the problems however for some of us who live abroad in, as I do, France is that it more than doubles the price of the subscription to be this far. This is tragic for two reasons, first because it discourages those living here to subscribe (and don't get me wrong, there is nothing that the presses can do about the expense involved with international mailing, especially now that the USA got rid of its once delightful book rate). Secondly, because it accentuates an already ongoing problem for the writer abroad--a distanciation from what is happening with the most exciting presses, those small presses that rely so strongly on our purchasing their books or these subscriptions. But it is great for this blog and others to remind us TO SUBSCRIBE.

One suggestion I would have for others like me in Paris, etc, is to group subscribe. Get together with a few friends and budget ensemble. Or 2 friends get a subscription each to one press then share the books. I often do such things with fellow poet Michelle Noteboom, which is cost effective and allows us both to support one or more of the presses we love and not go entirely broke. Best, Jennifer K Dick

Lemon Hound said...

Yes, it is problematic. Having spent seven years outside of Canada I had to be creative about keeping in touch with individuals and movements. Another suggestion: urge libraries to subscribe.

Nice to be in Paris though. Do wave at Mavis if you cross paths.