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Small Press Center

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  • mandreox
    New York s Small Press Center has attempted to catch the buzz of Indie Films by repositioning itself as the Center for Independent Publishing. The Small
    Message 1 of 1 , May 24, 2005
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      New York's Small Press Center has attempted to catch the buzz
      of "Indie Films" by repositioning itself as the Center for
      Independent Publishing. The Small Press Center was founded in 1984.
      They are best known for their annual Book Fairs. After 21 years the
      buzz you mostly hear at the SPC is like unto the buzz of flies
      circling the dead. Indie poets?

      Some months ago I was invited to chair a panel on independent
      publishing at the Center. I hemmed and hawed and eventually accepted.
      There would be a small honorarium. But I then asked him why he
      selected me.

      "I thought of you to moderate because I was familiar with your column
      in the Small Press Review in which you are a veteran observer of the
      Small Press Scene. (Also, in a more mercenary move, I thought it
      might help foster a closer relationship between Len F's operation and
      the Small Press Center.)"

      The parenthetical ulterior motive made me, of course, cancel my
      appearance. But I told them I could not appear because the Small
      Press Center, at least for this conference, seemed to favor the
      commercial over the literary. I received this email back from the
      SPC executive director Karin Taylor:

      "The Small Press Center embraces all types of small presses, and
      especially the values of non-commercial press, I am somewhat
      surprised that you have decided to define our mission for us."

      How dare I?! But if it seems to you that the SPC correspondence may
      be a tad casual, let me point out that the advertising for the SPC
      Book Fair generally features grotesquely amateurish drawings of
      writers. In a brochure the SPC states:

      "Publishers charging the author the full cost of production and
      selling books back to the author in a `vanity' arrangement are
      ineligible."

      Yet the Center itself seems to be a vanity project of a gentleman I
      have met once or twice named Whitney North Seymour. I have been
      reliably informed that the SPC's terrible drawings are by his
      daughter. The last time I was at the SPC the only New York event they
      thought worth advertising was a talk on Edna St Vincent Millay by one
      Samuel Whitney Seymour. At the top of the flyer was Millay rendered
      by that SPC's own classically untalented amateur.

      Once upon a time and for twelve years there was a real annual New
      York Small Press Book Fair. It danced along the line between the
      slick and sold-out and the dumb and dreary. I was slightly involved
      but not as much as my ex-wife and friends. At one point a New York
      company offered the Fair a free billboard. As an art critic, I was
      asked to find someone who could do that job. I asked Andy Warhol. He
      agreed. And then, classically, they rejected Andy as too slick and
      sold-out.

      When the SPC started their Book Fair, I was relieved that the ex-wife
      was uninvolved, and happily exhibited. A number of times Fair
      organizers approached me and asked me if I could get celebrity
      authors to read for them, presumably, for free. These are people
      born into New York society who never grasp the difference between
      mere pedigree and actual achievement. The current president of the
      United States, in this regard, also leaps to mind.

      At one SPC Fair, Whitney North Seymour himself stopped by my table
      and told me he was going to arrange for someone to write an article
      about my little magazine, Unmuzzled OX. He never got around to it. I
      hate writing negative articles. The Small Press Book Fair occurs the
      first weekend in December. Check it out yourself at
      Smallpress.org.
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