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About the Public Press

Our founding fathers had the infinite wisdom to make freedom of speech one of our inalienable rights. To a great extent we have unwittingly sold that right to commercial interests that replace free speech with a "free" message that promotes their proprietary financial interests. Slowly, but surely, we are losing not only our free speech, but all other freedoms as well.
The Public Press is an affiliation of people who love books, love ideas, and cherish freedom. By making it easier for ideas to be accessible to the public we are protecting our inalienable rights.
To learn more about the intrepid individuals who make up The Public Press, visit our People Page. Click here to read our Mission Statement.
Why does the world need The Public Press?
In a word... too much noise. (Yes, it's a joke.)
What is The Public Press?
The Public Press is a printed word counterpart to Public Television or Public Radio, but operating strictly on a pay-as-you-go, grassroots basis. It empowers authors whose work is deserving of publication but is not, by the standards of traditional publishing, commercially viable.
What is wrong with traditional publishing?
Nothing is "wrong," but the publishing business has gotten too big, too consolidated, and too enslaved to an economic system that caters to the mass market. While the industry serves the broad midsection of the market very well, it no longer accommodates the public interests that exist on the fringe.
Don't small presses fill the uncovered niches?
Some do, and very well. Bold and adventurous small presses fill specific editorial niches, and our hats are off to them! Because they are subject to industry-wide trading terms that favor the large houses, only the most efficient, well-managed, and highly focused small presses thrive. There are many large information gaps left in between the good small presses. These are the gaps that The Public Press will fill.
Are small presses capable of having hit books?
Absolutely, but even when successful, the window of opportunity will be small before the mainstream publishers jump on the bandwagon. Feng shui and aromatherapy were new ideas introduced by small, innovative publishers. Once the market was demonstrated, commercial presses quickly followed suit. Now, just a few years later, a search on Amazon shows nearly 4000 available titles for each subject!
Are too many books published?
Approximately 175,000 new titles are published every year! Despite this onslaught of new titles, the range of information covered is narrowing. The majority of these titles lose money for their publishers and receive only a brief period of exposure in the marketplace. Authors, who put all their investment of time and energy at the front end of the process, become frustrated, because their books never find their natural audiences.
Why do publishers publish books that lose money?
The traditional publishing world is divided into blockbusters and longshots. 5% of the titles (the blockbusters) account for 95% of the sales. 95% (the longshots) scramble for what is left.
Occasionally a title breaks from the pack and becomes a blockbuster. For every Harry Potter, there are thousands of books that slip beneath the waves and are quickly relegated to the remainder shelves.
Why is the blockbuster factor so dominant?
Efficient marketing and distribution enable advantageous economies of scale. Most major publishing houses are now owned by entertainment conglomerates who can risk a $10 million dollar advance for the exclusive rights to Bill Clinton's personal memoir, because, regardless of content or merit, it will attract enough attention to generate huge sales.
A huge hit counterbalances many small failures. Generally speaking only the big publishers can afford the risks that it takes to have a huge hit.
How does a book become a huge hit?
The most reliable path to success is to piggyback on free publicity. Thus, Private Jessica Lynch (the girl who was dramatically rescued during the early stages of the Iraq War) is instantly able to sell book rights to her story. None of her rescuers were offered similar deals. Recently, three books on the New York Times bestseller list were "written" by WWF wrestlers. Their sales success is directly tied to their television exposure.
So celebrity = success?
Sports heroes, film stars, and high-profile politicians have no trouble getting book deals for their exercise plans, special diets, theories of religion, or juicy memoirs. Also, there are superstar writers (Stephen King, John Grisham, Patricia Cornwell) who have developed their own brands and franchises.
So how will The Public Press succeed?
There is no shortage of interesting people doing worthwhile things. Most of these people, even those who write their stories very well, are shut out of the commercial publishing business. These are the people who will become our "celebrities," meaning that we will celebrate what they have accomplished.
The Public Press will give these authors (and their potential readerships) a new option, a home, promotion, and a context.
Will The Public Press add to the noise and clutter of the world?
No, The Public Press will add to the richness of the cultural fabric by making it easier for an author to publish a book or to bring an out-of-print title back. It will do so in a way that leaves the lightest possible footprint. No book will be printed before it is sold. There will be no warehouses of books to be remaindered. The notoriously wasteful "gone today, here tomorrow" cycle of the book business will be avoided entirely. (Go to our Authors section for more information.)
Who started The Public Press?
Stephen Morris is the founder of The Public Press. You can learn more about him on his website www.stephenmorris.us .
Who Owns The Public Press?
At present The Public Press is a self-organizing partnership headed by Stephen Morris. Eventually The Public Press may become an S-Corporation that donates its profits to charities.

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Michael Potts, webster
updated 13 October 2004 : 12:48 (m) Caspar (Pacific) time
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