... in my new blue hues

Lo-Tech Pride

The lists were sent out and all we need to do now is get our poetry together to mail out and assemble the group chap. This year I will be putting together a group chap made from poems contributed by the swap participants. I'm also getting zines together for the Laundromat cause so I have been folding and stapling.

I know there are some out there who thumb their nose on lo-tech zines and staples, in a recent interview with a small press publisher I believe the idea of using staplers was mocked. But see here's the thing- if you ant to be independent you do what you have to do and part of being independent for some of us means NOT jacking up the price of a poetry book to twenty bucks so that it can emulate what you see at Borders. Which is not to say that those books are terrible, not at all. But handing over hundreds of dollars to gloss it up is kind of like needing the Mercedes when the Honda works just fine, it is counter to the way some view small press. It also hurts the authors who are understandably proud of their uber-pro well crafted shiny volumes but who must now convince people to pay twenty or more dollars plus shipping for a book. News flash: the big corporate publishers deal in volume and can produce those shiny books because they print thousands and don't need to charge a fortune to make up for the gloss.
But for a small living room press to try to go that route seems crazy, since it often shifts the price point to a range that is out of reach for many people. Honestly, how often do you plop down a bunch of tens for a book of poetry? A few will, especially your mother or stalker.
My question is this: is this about getting work out there or is this about printers making money off of vanity and the desire to have one's book look lovely and legitimate? Is this about a sense of shame about being small press?
I did not think so but when you hear remarks about little zinesters with their staplers compared to those who run with the big dogs it seems to hint at some snobbery and classism that to me flies in the face of small press and our history.

I say go pay your glam printer and peddle your expensive wares, go make your deals with the printer devils, but don't thumb your nose at the people you want to promote your shit and review it and interview you and talk up your offerings. Pshaw.


wiredwriter said...

Tell it. Just don't take my pretty red Swingline stapler.

Um, I was told I would get a piece of cake.

Trisha Castillo said...

I totally agree, Lynn. So many independent writers and micro-presses are going the way of glossy perfect bound texts from vanity presses. I think they see it as a sign of legitimacy, in that they are presenting something that looks like it came from a big box retailer - even though the big publishers don't market work by anyone living except maybe Billy Collins or Maya Angelou. And the big box stores don't sell volumes from micro presses, unless you special order them.

I love chapbooks and zines that were assembled in someone's livingroom. I love the creativity that goes into designing layout and cover art and chosing which binding technique to use. I like the scratchy marks that show up on pages mass-copied at Kinko's.

I love the DIY aspect of writers creating their own chapbooks with their own hands. I've spent I don't know how many hours over the last month hand-binding chapbooks, bucause I got this crazy idea that my new chapbook needed to be finished with a Japanese stab binding. What the hell was I thinking? But it looks great.
Sweet Lozey is and always will be a DIY press. I wouldn't want it any other way.