5 Indie L.A. Presses You Should Know

Note: An old, but still relevant article on Los Angeles publishing.future_books

The continuing upheavals and bleak realities of the intersecting worlds of publishing houses and big-box retailers this year have made the normally reliable little joy of picking up a new book a minefield of guilt and ennui. From Amazon’s bad-faith feud with Hachette Book Group (way to play dirty, Bezos) to the more quotidian bummer of the perpetually middle-of-the-road offerings on the book tables at Costco and Wal-Mart, it’s more important to buy indie and local now than ever. But when it comes to books, it can be hard for even the most dedicated reader to know where to find the latest and greatest small and indie presses.

The exciting small publishing houses profiled below are located right here in L.A. All offer tomes that you can find at beloved haunts like Skylight in Los Feliz and Diesel in Brentwood for those all-important last-minute stocking stuffers.

Rare Bird Books
The creation of Tyson Cornell, who used to direct publicity and marketing for hometown darling Book Soup, Rare Bird Books has five imprints: A Barnacle Book, A Vireo Book, California Coldblood, Archer, and Rare Bird Books itself. Each publishes a slightly different set of overlapping genres; California Coldblood focuses on sci-fi and the like, whereas A Barnacle Book brings out Hollywood lit, memoir, and crime fiction. Rare Bird’s many arms offer an embarrassment of riches, from the BDSM self-writing of Madison Young’s Daddy to Burt Weissbourd’s In Velvet, a spooky animal mutation whodunit set at Yellowstone. There’s something for everyone here, from photographer Dave Naz’s Genderqueer, which explores the developing pantheon of alternative takes on gender, to We Dropped A Bomb On You, a greatest-hits anthology of work from on-hiatus lit journal Slake. 

Writ Large Press
Co-founded in 2008 by NYU Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing MFA alums Judeth Oden Choi and Chiwan Choi (whom LA Weekly christened “the Jay-Z of poetry” last year), Writ Large Press offers challenging and inventive collections in delightful packages, including Khadija Anderson’s History of Butoh, which combines the L.A.-based author’s knowledge of the vicerally affecting Japanese theater form invoked in its title with reflections on her life as a Muslim woman and José Luís Peixoto’s Antidote, a short fiction collection in which each story is connected to a track on Portuguese metal band Moonspell’s 2003 album of the same title.

The most surprising entry in the Writ Large catalogue may be The Siren / In the Painting Heraclitus Wrings His Hands Above the World and Appears to be Crying by Melora Walters, whom you might recognize from her higher-profile gig as an actress in Magnolia and HBO’s Big Love. Walters handbound this limited-edition set herself, and only a few copies remain available, making them particularly desirable at this most wonderful time of the year. In 2015, Writ Large will publish Hollywood Notebook by local writer to watch Wendy C. Ortiz, whose memoir Excavation (published earlier this year by Future Tense), has garnered lots of positive attention from The Los Angeles Review of Books and the L.A. Times. Read Rest of Article Here


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