2011 Chapbook Appeal

an open letter from the Editor in Chief to our fabulous readers

November of this year marked our 2nd anniversary of producing chapbooks. We couldn’t be more proud of the titles we’ve published—titles written by authors passionate about keeping the craft of writing alive. Each one is a testament to the fact that literature is not, and will never be, dead.

I don’t know where you stand in the great e-book debate, but I personally believe that they will be critical for keeping literature open to new voices in these difficult economic times, due to their financial and physical accessibility. At Folded Word, we have made it our mission to offer 99cent e-book versions of our print chapbooks during the pre-order period because we want to make it possible for any reader to support the artistry of our authors. These e-chaps are formatted to play nice with all e-reading devices and have “speech to text” turned on for the visually impaired. We thought that with all the free e-reading apps out there, at this price and functionality our e-chaps would fly off the virtual shelves. But they haven’t.

In trying to figure out why, I’ve come up with a few questions for you:

  1. If you read chapbooks, how do you acquire them?
  2. If you don’t read chapbooks, what is the main reason for your reluctance?
  3. Do you feel that buying e-books (whether chapbook or book length) encourages publishers not to produce print books?

To weigh in on any of the questions that apply to you, either leave a comment below or send me an email (editors [at] foldedword [dot] com). I can assure you, by the way, that Folded Word is committed to keeping book craft alive—a commitment that can be seen in our signature chapbooks and broadsides. In fact, the sale of e-(chap)books makes it more possible (not less) for us to produce future print titles by increasing cash flow with few additional time demands.

We have some amazing chapbooks available that could truly use some love. If you aren’t familiar with our chapbook list, please explore our chapbook blog at http://foldedchaps.wordpress.com. If all our social-media followers/fans took a chance on just one 99cent e-chap, we could make the close of this year very merry for our chapbook authors. It could also be the highest-yield investment in the arts you’ll make in 2011.

Whether you join in the discussion or not, whether you purchase a chapbook or not, we want to thank you for being part of The Fold. We would not exist without you.

Cheers & Happy New Year,
J.S.

Investment Opportunities:

Common Symptoms of an Enduring Chill Explained by Ben Nardolilli
Girl, Wolf, Bones by Nora Nadjarian
On Cloud 285 by Nathalie Boisard-Beudin
Snowing Fireflies by Eric Beeny
When the Cats Razzed the Chickens by Mel Bosworth
The Wait of Atom by Jessie Carty

To purchase e-books directly from us, click on the title you want and then select e-book in the options drop down box at the bottom of the page. Both .epub and .mobi files are available from our shop (http://foldedword.bigcartel.com).

To purchase e-books from Amazon for the Kindle, please visit the Kindle shop for your country and type “Folded Word” in the search box to see your choices.

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21 Comments Add yours

  1. Debbie says:

    Thank you for letting us know about this, the thoughts behind the e-books you offer, and your passion for chapbooks in print.
    I am quite “behind the times”. I don’t have a lap top, nor another device to read from right yet, and find that I don’t seem to read e-books vs. reading blogs and e-mails. I love print versions that I can carry with me and then share with someone else. But . . .I do love Folded Word and do want to support you and the artists, so will consider what I can do about this! 🙂

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  2. Thanks, Debbie. We always love hearing from you. The holding of a physical book is a one-of-a-kind sensory experience to be sure. One thing that helps immensely is writing book reviews, or even just rating books, on Amazon and Goodreads. If you’d be interested in some pdf review copies, let me know via email:-)

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  3. FYI to anyone who tried to purchase in our shop and saw shipping charges for e-books–that’s fixed now, thanks to a reader who alerted us. There is most definitely NOT supposed to be shipping and handling on our e-books.

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  4. Alas, I do not have an e-reader or equivalent. I am a paper fetishist.

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  5. But you do a fantastic job on Twitter passing along links to all our projects, which helps big time:-)

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  6. K says:

    This is interesting. Let me see … I purchase paper copies of (chap)books. I read poems and stories in online journals and magazines–one here, one there, one today, one tomorrow. But I have never purchased an e-(chap)book. It has never crossed my mind. I don’t have an e-reader. It has never crossed my mind to get one. It honestly is not something that I am drawn too. I don’t know why. Perhaps because I spend so much time on the net, I have drawn a subconscious line between what I want to read online, and what I want to read while being completely disconnected. I increasingly relish my disconnected time, curled up under a blanket, in silence, with paper in hand, folding corners, etc.

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  7. The sensory aspect is what seems to be a common thread. And getting disconnected from screens is a big deal for me, too. I choose e-ink e-readers because at least there are no photons zapping my eyes–only reflected light like a paper book. But it doesn’t have the same feel as paper. That is one reason I think print will never die, though it may go back to its original luxury status.

    Chapbooks have become an art object, which makes it less likely for general readers to even know what they are much less read them or understand the reason for their price tag. But the origins of chapbooks are rooted in accessible literature for the common man–produced on the cheapest media and priced for those who couldn’t afford books. So the idea of bringing chapbooks full circle, back to that original fiscal accessibility appeals to me.

    BTW since I upgraded my Kindle, I am now able to read most online zines on it. This is a big eye-saver since there’s no backlight and I can sit in my favorite chair rather than at my computer desk.

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  8. K says:

    Re-reading your original post, I just tuned in to the fact that these e-books have a ‘speech to text’ function. So, is this like the old ‘books on tape’? I really like that idea …

    I also like the idea of saving physical space. For people who live in compact spaces, e-books make that possible.

    As for the other things you mentioned in your response above–about the quality of the reading experience with no back-light–it makes me think about this option a bit more. At the end of the day, I’ve always found this idea very cool–conceptually– but it’s about changing habits, and that takes time! Perhaps it’s that way for many people. It will just take patience and time, until this becomes the new ‘normal’.

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  9. It’s interesting, isn’t it–all these facets that go into an art/entertainment form? As for “speech to text”, some e-readers have the ability to use a computer voice to read out text if it is formatted properly. Sometimes you can choose between a male and female voice, and they even have a bit of inflection that follows punctuation. Nothing like a Kenneth Branagh audio book, but serviceable. My son, who gets intimidated by large blocks of text, will actually sit and read a book with speech to text on. And I know he’s reading it because he catches pronunciation errors and funny things that happen with sound words like “brrrrr.”

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  10. jessiecarty says:

    As you know, I have worked with Folded Word and some other publishers. It is a bit sad how few e-chapbooks are selling in general. I think people balk at poetry because there are all these rumors that they are not formatted correctly. Perhaps screen samples would help? 🙂

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  11. Screen shots are an excellent idea. I managed to remember on some of them, but I think we need to make a conscious effort to plaster our posts about our titles with photos of the e-book renditions. Thanks:-)

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  12. Dorothee says:

    Interesting discussion – it made me reflect on my own reading habits: altogether i rather read books in paperform, away from the usual computer screen. i even print longer online texts to read them on paper.
    Since a while i have access to an iPad, and since last week also to a Kindle. Both aren’t mine, but i now registered Kindle accounts on both for me. What i actively use is the iPad, for browsing, especially blogs, and to read into sample chapters of books via Kindle-on-iPad. If i like the book, i rather buy the paper copy.
    Your post now inspired me to buy Nora’s chapbook for the Kindle. Looks surprisingly good on it. Yes, screenshots would be an idea.
    2 kindle/amazon/devices things that i wished were different: i keep touching the Kindle screen, and find the navigation with keys a bit tedious, it’s like a step back in technology. and i wished there was a better solution for the multiple devices: the books i download are conneced to the devices. so Nora’s book is now fixed on the Kindle, i can’t access it on the iPad, or maybe there is a way and i have yet to figure it out.

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  13. I’m not sure which versions of the Kindle device are available in Germany, but I think in America they now have a touch one that uses the reflective e-ink. Myself, I am someone who prefers lots of buttons because they are more efficient for me. (I also have two manual typewriters in my office.) I’m not sure how you have the sharing/accounts set up on your devices, but there should be a way in your online Amazon account to “manage your Kindle” and select that you’d like particular books to show up on both devices. I can read my Kindle books on both of my Kindles plus my iTouch in the Kindle app. They even sync back and forth to the last page read if I have wireless turned on. I think most e-books are licensed for up to 5 devices, and some (including Folded’s e-books) have “sharing” turned on so that you can send one to a friend’s Kindle for a few weeks. Assuming the Kindle DE store is set up like Kindle US, that is.

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  14. dorothee21 says:

    Thanks for pointing me towards the Amazon/Kindle account settings option – i had looked directly in the Kindle for it, and hadn’t found the settings there. As to Kindle itself, in Germany there’s no touchscreen version on sale yet – it’s all a bit slower here when it comes to e-books.

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  15. If e-books and e-readers really take off, I’m curious to see what other tech/engineering countries do with the concept. I can think of enhancements I’d like that could probably use some German engineering:-)

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  16. Marcus Speh says:

    Q: If you read chapbooks, how do you acquire them? — A: I buy them online. Exclusively. I have a Kindle account which means, as you all probably know, that my different reading devices (Kindle e-reader, iPad, 2 household Macs) are synchronized. Since I tend to do a lot of my reading in short intervals, I’m grateful for that service. Like Dorothee earlier, I’m really happy to be able to download sample chapters…but as for chapbooks, especially for 0.99 cents, I don’t exercise a lot of caution or sampling; as another reader located in Germany, I depend on ebooks because small press publications/Lulu or other print-on-demand platforms want too much money for shipping from me…it’s not rare that the shipping costs are twice the price of the book. That’s just crazy…As an e-reader who also likes to touch and turn paper, I usually own a paper and an e-version of a book I love…and when I’m really in love and it’s available (and I like the voice) I’ll also have an audio version. (Okay, I’ll stop here because I’m getting hung up on too much detail…)

    Q: If you don’t read chapbooks, what is the main reason for your reluctance? — A: I DO, I do, I do read chapbooks. I think it’s a great way to get to know an author pre or post his/her debut novel. In fact, I like chapbooks so much that I’ll submit two to you for publication…

    Q: Do you feel that buying e-books (whether chapbook or book length) encourages publishers not to produce print books?—A: absolutely not. Especially because for now, and probably for some time to come, most publishers, esp. large ones, have no clue how to really use the e-book opportunity. They don’t understand the format, the reach or the marketing. Small presses like yourself usually get it so much faster…I can see publishers of all sizes putting profits from ebooks into particularly well made print books. Maybe this way books as objects and products will have the quality of the Victorian book…

    Thanks for all your work & I think your authors are excellent. Going to do some investing now…Cheers from Berlin!

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  17. Marcus, I wish we could print your response on a giant billboard:-) Thanks so much for the feedback and the support. Looking forward to reading your submissions now, too!

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  18. jhwriter says:

    Just discovered your questions, Ms. G. Bookstores in the Denver area simply don’t carry chapbooks (they used to, and when they did I counted on them to affordably explore new writers), so now I buy most of mine at readings or online, usually (now that I think of it) via recommendations made on blogs that I follow. But chapbooks are more than samplers; Bly’s Sixties and Seventies Press imprints, with the “20 Poems” series, showed that a small selection could give readers a cohesive, luminous experience and leave an indelible impression. I still go back to 20 Poems by Tomas Transtromer, even though the same translations appear in other collections, because the look and feel of the book still gives off the radiance that moved me so much when I first read it. Frankly, I’ve never read a book on a reader, though my wife owns a Kindle and we both own iPads. So I have nothing to contribute on that score! Hope this helps in some way….

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  19. I hear you on the scarcity in bookshops these days. I was in Portsmouth NH two years ago and found a little indie shop that carried chapbooks written by local authors, so I bought a few to encourage the practice. But they are difficult to shelve without damage.

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  20. jhwriter says:

    The damage issue is a big one. I don’t know if you remember the Godine chapbook series: 5 hardbound chapbooks sold in one slipcase. Very cool but a bit pricey as I recall. Don’t know how successful it was; they discontinued after a few years (3 or 4, I think).

    Quarterly Review of Literature tried something similar that lasted a good deal longer: 4 or 5 books in one big volume issued annually. (Jane Hirshfield’s first book was part of this series.) The first volume came out in 1978 and last in 1999—a hell of a run. They would issue each volume in cloth and paper (the cloth aimed at libraries). I always liked them because you would have one or two familiar poets alongside two or three little-known poets, which made for wonderful discoveries. Anyway, both of these approaches got around the shelf wear issue….

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