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The consequence is that there are more active poets now than ever, but that the total addressable market for any given book of poems is likely to be much smaller. The trade presses have acknowledged this by largely abandoning the publication of poetry altogether, because for most the economics are not there to support the infrastructure required for a major trade publication.
And the role of the self-published book, the commercial object with perhaps the least prestige of all, has been important to poetry in the U.S. from Whitman to the web editions of today. But try to get Ingram to distribute your little chapbook. The book industry is exactly that, and its relationship to poetry is counter-intuitive at best. The days when major publishers brought out poetry as a “loss leader” (or because some poet might turn into a profitable novelist) are almost entirely behind us. The number of trade publishers who even touch poetry are so few, and their collective aesthetics so very narrow, that they have largely relegated themselves to irrelevance.
Lots more good stuff to ponder.
Labels: Why DIY