5 Companies That Publish Great Books

Readers are often looking for ways to branch out and find new books. Browsing through the catalogs of independent presses can be a great way to discover fascinating reads, from collections of poetry to thrillers to non-fiction works about social justice. The five presses listed here put out great titles that are worth checking out. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Remarkable Independent Publishing Companies

Company Notable Titles
Handheld Press Of Cats and Elfins So Lucky
Atlantic Press Mouth Fried Eggs in Brine
The New Press The New Jim Crow Race
Minor Matters David Hilliard: What Could Be Pine
Fernwood Publishing Reconciliation in Practice Thirty Years of Failure

What Is An Independent Press?

Also known as "indie press," independent press refers to publishers that aren't part of large corporations. They often cater to a specific genre or niche, such as fantasy, women's rights, or poetry. Independent press is sometimes confused with self-publishing, but the two are actually quite distinct. Self-publishing presses often require the authors to pay their for their services up front or buy a minimum number of copies, while indie publishers make money by selling books to readers, not by selling services to authors.

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  • A journal where you can keep track of your thoughts & ideas
  • Some coffee or tea to get you through late-night bursts of inspiration
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  • A laptop that's easy to bring along to your local coffee shop
  • A height-adjustable desk to help you avoid hurting your lower back
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How To Get A Book Deal

In Depth

It's hard to keep up with the hundreds of great books that come out every year. One way to focus your attention is to keep track of the publishing companies that consistently put out titles of interest. This list, presented in no particular order, looks at five independent presses with unique perspectives.

At #1, Handheld Press sells remarkable stories from the past and the present. Based in Bath, England, the publisher focuses on eight categories of books: 20th Century History, thrillers and crime stories, disability studies, fantasy and science fiction, humor, LGBT titles, and both fictional and factual accounts of women's stories.

The press puts an emphasis on design, aiming to make books that also stand as beautiful objects. It was founded by Kate Macdonald, a literary historian, editor, reviewer, and lecturer in British literature and cultural history. Handheld places a premium on sustainability, seeking to minimize the environmental impact of both the way it prints its books and the travel involved in the events in which it participates.

It was founded by Kate Macdonald, a literary historian, editor, reviewer, and lecturer in British literature and cultural history.

#2 on the list is Atlantic Press. A publisher of graphic literature, the company champions work that respects the illustrator's personal voice: their ideas, their pictures, and their words. Its rare and collectible editions represent a genre it calls "authorial illustration." Some of these books are intended for adult readerships, while others are appropriate for all ages.

Associated with the Masters course in authorial illustration at Falmouth University, Atlantic seeks to both promote new talent and recognize existing practitioners. Artists published by the press include June Moore, who documented her terminal cancer in poetry, prose, and verse; Phyllida Bluemel, a Falmouth student working in collaboration with poet Alyson Hallett; and Emily Juniper, whose Vassa Zheleznova re-imagines a Maxim Gorky play.

For #3, it's The New Press. Founded by book publishing legend Andre Schiffrin, alongside Diane Wachtell, the company was designed to be the United States' first major public interest book publisher. With a mission dedicated to social justice, it is a home to leading thinkers, journalists, scholars, political leaders, and activists.

With a mission dedicated to social justice, it is a home to leading thinkers, journalists, scholars, political leaders, and activists.

The New Press sustains itself primarily through the sales of books, the revenue from which is reinvested back into its not-for-profit mission. It has published a number of successful and influential titles, including Studs Terkel's national bestseller Race, James Loewen's American Book Award-winner Lies My Teacher Told Me, and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow.

Coming in at #4, Minor Matters is a collaborative publishing platform, making books through the engagement of an international audience. Founded in 2013 by book designer and editor Michelle Dunn Marsh, the press highlights underrepresented voices in contemporary art. Recognizing that significant work might always stay on the fringes, it sustains itself by offering books for pre-sale and listing the first 500 buyers as co-publishers.

Based in Seattle, the company collaborates with artists to develop the concept, editorial direction, and design of their books. In addition to the direct pre-sales, Minor Matters titles are available through select independent retailers, such as Strand in New York, Elliott Bay in Seattle, and Hennessey and Ingalls in Los Angeles. Its books have been covered in outlets like KTLA, Vice, City Arts, and Indian Country Today.

Its books have been covered in outlets like KTLA, Vice, City Arts, and Indian Country Today.

Completing the list at #5, Fernwood Publishing and its literary imprint, Roseway, present critical books that inform, enlighten, and challenge. The Canadian company has offices in Black Point, Nova Scotia and Winnipeg. The press regards itself as a political publisher, in that its books acknowledge, confront, and contest intersecting forms of oppression and exploitation.

Historically publishing for an academic readership, Fernwood's main focus has been in the social sciences. It places an emphasis on criminology, aboriginal issues, labor, women's history and gender studies, critical theory, politics, political economy, culture, and social work. With the acquisition of the Roseway imprint in 2006, it has pursued a modest program of fiction publishing.