This is for you, you frequenter of farmer’s markets. You eater of organic free-range pears. You drinker of fair-trade, shade-grown, puttin’-a-Mayan-child-through-college coffee.
I know you read. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t know how evil regular coffee was. But why do you think it’s okay to order a book off Amazon when you’re such an activist in every other way? As if the fact of its book-ness alone made it revolutionary. And while I’m sure Barack Obama’s father’s dreams were really fascinating, there are other people out there who have interesting things to say. They’re just saying them a little more quietly. Meaning their books might not be face-up on the bargain table two feet into Barnes & Noble. You might have to work a little bit.
And I know we’re all tired and busy, but if you can’t work your ass off around the holidays, then when?
A group of booky folks and I have been talking periodically about how small press publishing should have the aura of indie music—i.e., the more obscure the cooler—rather than the aura of meekness it sometimes gets saddled with/saddles itself with. So we compiled a helpful guide to local presses and indie bookstores for holiday shoppers who want to be progressive and to rock.
(For my four readers who live outside L.A., don’t think you’re off the hook: You can order online from almost all of these presses and stores, and there are great presses and stores in your area, I guarantee it. Well, no I don’t, because lots of stores are shutting down. But if you live in Seattle or San Francisco, I guarantee it.)
Southern California-based Presses:
• Angel City Press (http://angelcitypress.com): nostalgic yet cool illustrated books
• Arktoi Books (http://www.redhen.org/arktoi.asp): poetry and fiction that give lesbian writers access to “the conversation”
• Cahuenga Press (http://www.cahuengapress.com): poetry that honors creative freedom and cooperation
• Cloverfield Press (http://cloverfieldpress.com): books as visually beautiful as they are intellectually and emotionally stimulating
• Dzanc Books (http://www.dzancbooks.org): literary fiction that falls outside the mainstream
• Gorsky Press (http://www.gorsky.razorcake.org): risk-taking books that encourage readers to re-examine society
• Green Integer (http://www.greeninteger.com): essays, manifestos, speeches, epistles, narratives, and more
• Les Figues Press (http://www.lesfigues.com): aesthetic conversations between readers, writers, and artists, with an avant-garde emphasis
• Make Now Press (http://www.makenow.org): contemporary works of constraint and conceptual literature
• Otis Books/Seismicity (http://www.otis.edu/academics/mfa_writing/seismicity.html): contemporary fiction, poetry, essays, creative non-fiction and translation
• Red Hen Press (http://www.redhen.org): poetry and more by writers whose work has been marginalized
• San Diego City Works Press (http://www.cityworkspress.org): local, ethnic, political, and border writing (and a great little book by Cheryl Klein!)
• Santa Monica Press (http://www.santamonicapress.com): offbeat looks at pop culture, lively how-to books, film history, travel, and humor
Book Soup, West Hollywood (http://www.booksoup.com)
A Different Light, West Hollywood (http://www.adlbooks.com)
Eso Won Books, Leimert Park (http://esowon.booksense.com)
Family, Fairfax District (http://www.familylosangeles.com)
IMIX Bookstore, Eagle Rock (http://www.imixbooks.com)
Metropolis Books, Downtown (http://www.metropolisbooksla.com)
Skylight Books, Los Feliz (http://www.skylightbooks.com)
Small World Books, Venice (http://www.smallworldbooks.com)
Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena (http://www.vromansbookstore.com)