Alex Levenberg has been promoted to global rights director at Amazon Publishing.
The WSJ looks at a number of successful independent publishers and some of their high-impact books. Founder of the UK’s Fitzcarraldo Editions Jacques Testard — who bought Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time before she won the Nobel, and also published Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk’s Booker International Prize-winning Flights — says,”Publishing is extremely tough financially. It’s basically like digging a hole in the ground and chucking money in.”
But, “If I publish your debut and we sell 600 copies, I’ll still do the next one, and the one after that. It takes time to find a readership, and I’m not in it for the bottom line.”
As with Fitzcarraldo, small publishers often publish significant works when no one else is interested. Carmen Maria Machado’s story collection Her Body and Other Parties was turned down by almost 30 publishers: “If Ethan [Nosowsky, at Graywolf] had not read my book…[it] would not have gotten published,” she says.
Europa Editions co-founder (and longtime publishers of Elena Ferrante) Sandro Ferri “isn’t fanatical about independence,” the paper writes. “Most of the good books are published by big groups, no question. I don’t think that small is beautiful and big is bad—it’s not like that.”
Dan Halpern at Ecco concurs: “It’s not complicated. You get a book, and if you love it you figure out a way to publish it and you figure out a way to sell it. I think that’s true from the smallest house to the largest.”