Vouched Atlanta (and my resolution to read more small press books)

Do you ever read independent literature (books published by small independent presses)? I’ll admit, I don’t come across too many in my reading life (unless you count Tinkers, which was only after it won the Pulitzer – small press success story of the century!) and I’ve never really been compelled to seek them out. That is until I met the folks from Vouched Atlanta at the Decatur Book Festival a couple months ago.

Vouched Atlanta is an offshoot of the Indianapolis-based Vouched, which exists to promote small press literature. They do this in a number of ways: through their Vouched Presents reading series, their website – including their refreshingly unorthodox and entertaining Awful Interviews – and, what first brought them to my attention, through their Guerrilla Book Stores. So basically, they set up tables at events (like the DBF) and sell a hand-picked number of small press books, all of which they’ve read and can enthusiastically recommend.

Okay, I admit, I fell in love with Vouched as soon as I read the words “Guerrilla Book Store,” and jumped to a hundred different conclusions as to what that meant, all of them bad-ass, all of them fedora-wearing. But once I spoke with Laura Straub and the other folks from Vouched, I was even more impressed by their deep-seated passion for small press literature. And it made me think, why not broaden my own reading horizon? Knowing how hard it is to get a book deal from a major publisher, and how, often, the factors that lead to national recognition for that lucky author are as much time, place, chance and trend as they are skill, it’s inarguable logic that there are going to be some extremely talented writers floating around out there under the radar. It’s a whole other world I know nothing about.

So my All Saint’s Day resolution (why not, right?) is simply to read more small press literature. I’d like to get in touch with Vouched and ask them for a recommendation, but first I wanted to ask you, readers: Have you ever read books from small presses? What was your impression? Can you recommend any to me? Or, is this as new to you as it is to me? I’d love to hear.

(Photo reblogged from mollystrickland)

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9 comments
  1. I work for a small press so I’m certainly biased, but I think small presses are able to take risks with the books they publish that larger presses aren’t always able to take or willing to make.

    Some of my small press favorites: Sarabande Books, Graywolf, Coffee House Press, Akashic Books and, of course, Atticus Books, where I work.

    • Erin said:

      Well put, Lacey. It must be liberating to work at a small press where there is that freedom. Thanks for the recommendations. Those are all presses I’ve seen and always meant to support; now it’s time I do just that.

  2. Anne said:

    I love the bathtub picture as well as your All Saints Day resolution!
    Well done again, luv

  3. All Saints Day Resolution… that is hilarious! I have not read too many books from small publishers mostly because they are not very easy to find– and used books are kind of my thing. I have decided to go crazy though and by someone’s self-published novel. It may be awful. It might be amazing… that’s half the fun… or if it’s awful that will be all of the fun. I would love a list of small press peeps (yes, I actually just wrote that). I always like to support the little guy.

  4. I read a lot of books from Canadian small presses, since I am, in fact, Canadian! Some of my fave are Coach House Press (All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman, Lemon by Cordelia Strube, Pulpy and Midge by Jessica Westhead), Pedlar Press (The Incident Report by Martha Baillie), Biblioasis (Once by Rebecca Rosenblum), Tightrope Books (Be Good by Stacey May Fowles)…just to name a few! :) Hope you enjoy delving into more small press lit!

    • Erin said:

      Great recommendations – thanks so much, Suzie!

  5. Hey Erin,

    I’ve just finally come across this post and wanted to say thanks so much for all the kind words about what we’re doing at Vouched. If we ever get to the point of having uniforms when we’re doing guerrilla tables, I’ll be sure that fedoras are part of it. :)

    And, I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of the small press goodness you’ve been reading in the past few months!

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