The Fine Qualities of Chapbooks

19 Jul

Writers focus on BOOKS—period. They can go on writing for years without ever having heard the word “chapbook,” one of those specialty words that every writer and reader should know, because it has both practical purposes and special qualities.

Speaking of practicality, chapbooks are a charmingly effective way for poets to organize their hoards of poetry by theme or by time-frame. Many “major” poetry books are of poems sectioned according to which “minor” collection they originally belonged in. This contributes to the charm of chapbooks and bolsters their value as early editions of poets’ work.

There are also many readers who appreciate being able to sit with a beverage in a cozy nook and read an entire collection in one sitting. (Gratification in an hour, and then over to or a reader’s favorite blog to pen a book review!)

Furthermore, publishing costs through chapbook publishers are remarkably reasonable considering the quality—hundreds less than standard book publishers; perhaps thousands less if one is not expecting a thousand books. There are a few very low-cost chapbook publishers, but I don’t recommend that route for anyone. I can only assume that they use standard copy paper and manage to take enough shortcuts to make a not-so-impressive presentation.

Finally, chapbooks have a “made with love” quality that is a must for poetry. It makes them more gift-suitable than standard books as they appear to be hand-made as opposed to machine-made. They are printed in very small runs, monitored closely for perfect alignment. They are folded and stapled individually, and then trimmed a few at a time. Overall presentation is very crafty.

Chapbooks have been made for hundreds of years, and they do seem to be arriving in fashion among poets as they educate themselves on the benefits of publishing via chapbook publishers.

Middle Island Press is the home of The Chapbook Queen,
Christina Anne Taylor.
(“Cats don’t sell their services; they sell themselves.” –Wm. Burroughs)

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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in News & Reviews


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