Small Presses & “The Count”

I speculated that independents—more iconoclastic, publishing more work in translation, and perhaps less focused on the bottom line—would turn out to be more equitable than the big commercial houses. Boy, was I wrong. Granted, these presses publish a smaller number of books in total, so a difference in one or two books has a larger effect on their percentages. Still, their numbers are dismaying. Graywolf, with 25 percent female authors, was our highest-scoring independent. The cutting-edge Brooklyn publisher Melville House came in at 20 percent. The doggedly leftist house Verso was second-to-last at 11 percent. Our lowest scorer? It pains me to say it, because Dalkey Archive Press publishes some great books that are ignored by the mainstream houses. But it would be nice if more than 10 percent of them were by women. (In the 2011 edition of Dalkey’s much-lauded Best European Fiction series, edited by Aleksandar Hemon, 30 percent of the stories are by women. Last year, at least Zadie Smith wrote the preface.)

–from “A Literary Glass Ceiling?” by Ruth Franklin, The New Republic

A quick glance at the Tupelo Press catalogue reveals that our stable of authors includes 75 authors: 32 men, 43 women. Of the 90 titles, 37 were by men, 53 by women.  Without “making a fetish” of it (Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement), Tupelo has upended what appears to be the industry standard.

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2 Comments

  1. Yay! Tupelo! This just confirms my longstanding admiration of the press.

  2. That’s what I say, too: Yay! :)

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