Saturday, January 8, 2011

More Money for Nothing

I really like Alice James Books. They've published Christina Davis' Fourth a Raven, Brian Turner's collections, as well as B.H. Fairchild's books, and The Far Mosque by Kazim Ali (one of my favorite books!). They have a lot of other notable authors with great titles. You can get them by visiting their website. A number of these books spend time on the Poetry Foundations' Best Seller list. You can buy them, or you could submit your own manuscript to their contest with a $28 reading fee, and if you put an envelope with $2.50 of postage on it, you can get one of these books for yourself--and you should, by all means, be familiar with the books on a press you send your own work to, and support...through buying the books.

Alice James Books is also asking for your donations on a facebook page. I paid for each one of their books I've gotten over the years, and I'm glad I did. I could have asked for a desk copy of Here, Bullet, but I felt like they deserved the money. They won't be getting a donation from me...because I already gave them money, and happily received what they were selling.

I was talking to Dan Hegarty, The Jedi Drummer, about this. He takes donations, too. If you head over to his website, and enjoy the video performance he's put together, you can give him some money. Whether you do or not, you get the entertainment for free.

It seems a number of people in the larger poetry community also listen to NPR, and everyone loves a good week-long fundraiser campaign. Maybe you tough through it, or maybe you turn away for the week, but you can enjoy that service (news, classical, jazz, funny shows, interesting interviews) for free if you want. You can also donate.

The point is this: if a company produces something you want, and you pay for it, that's that. The transaction is over. You have the thing you wanted, and you enjoy it; the business has the money they set as the price, and they continue to make things they hope you'll want. When a poetry press is selling books, then asking for donations, what they're saying is, "Give us money and we'll give you this book, and if you like the book, you can give us more money which we'll then use to make more books which hopefully you'll give us more money for later."

If a press--or any business or organization--has the mission to make a product, and sell that product, but they can't afford to stay in business by making those products and selling them, there is a problem with their business model. There is too much money going out, and not enough coming in. The solution is to either A) charge more money for your product (which customers don't like), or B) find a way to cut costs so you can continue to provide your product at a reasonable price.

Again, if a press has a book you want to read, please purchase it. If you can, do so from the publisher's site, so they don't get a huge cut taken by the distributor. If they are hosting an event, get down there, and pay the cover. Maybe bring a few friends. Order a beverage, and tip your waitress. If you thumb through the journal at the newsstand, get a subscription.

Just don't let them think they deserve something for nothing.

Same goes for you: don't steal. It ain't right.


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