Here’s what I love about small presses: they’re quirky, they look for (and fill) niches that the big guys have missed, and they often appear to be as governed by personal passions as market research.
Today’s shout-out, Valancourt Books, is no exception. Their catalog sports many overlooked and forgotten gothic books. Because they’ve identified a missed opportunity? Maybe. Because they think there’s a readership out there who would love to see these books dusted off and brought out in new editions? Maybe.
Because they just plain love these books? Definitely.
Publisher and general editor James D. Jenkins has the story:
My first few months at the University of Chicago were bliss. College! Great books! Stimulating conversations in the dorm cafeteria! At first it did not bother me that everyone around me was miserable. This, after all, was a place that welcomed misery. We thrived on it.
And if you were feeling down, you could open the campus newspaper and turn to the funnies:
Ha ha ha ha ha. See? Instant pick-me-up.
During my first year a magazine—I think it was Playboy—ran a survey of the Best Party Schools. We came in at number 300, dead last. #299 was West Point.
But hey, I tried to make the best of things. I launched into this world with great seriousness and a masochistic redefinition of fun.
It worked for a while. Continue reading