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June 25, 2007

The Red in the Black

Glad to hear that Verso, my favorite left-wing publisher, is commodifying its dissent in such fashion as to avoid TRPF. In other words, they are making money.

I've just received a press release from Janey Tannenbaum, the director of marketing, saying that sales in 2006 were up 59% over the previous year, with profits at $394k.

According to a memo from Giles O'Bryen, the press's managing director:

Sales and margin have come from every area of the operation, with the Radical Thinkers series helping to revitalise our backlist, and the frontlist performing strongly across the board. We have made a good start to 2007 -- with Sara Paretsky's memoir Writing in an Age of Silence and Mike Davis Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb selling particularly well -- and have plenty to look forward to in the coming season, including a spectacular book of Radiohead artwork, Dead Children Playing, and a graphic biography of Che Guevara, which is already earning handsome sums in foreign rights sales. 2007 is primarily a year of consolidation and preparation for our fortieth anniversary in 2008, which will give us a great opportunity to take sales up above the $6 million mark.

As a friend who has published with Verso puts it, this is a "man bites dog" story.

Posted by smclemee at June 25, 2007 4:19 PM


I heard a rumour that they owe Zizek millions of pounds that he has not demanded. I wonder if there is any truth to these stories (and others like it). I'm willfully ignorant of the pubishing world's economics.

Posted by: Anthony Paul Smith at June 26, 2007 11:03 AM

It's said that they hit a very bad patch a few years ago when Christopher Hitchens compelled them to pay up in full on his royalties.

Posted by: Scott McLemee at June 26, 2007 11:24 AM

I happen to know that Verso is publishing a new book by Zizek in the Fall...to go along with about 20 others he's done with them...so I doubt that

Posted by: Cara Petersen at June 26, 2007 3:04 PM

Verso is unquestionably the best publisher out there right now. Their catalog has gotten away from "quirky" and "wacky" to an amazing academic repertoire. Has anyone seen their new Radical Thinkers Series?

Posted by: Jared White at June 26, 2007 3:08 PM