Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, March 2

Gapers Block

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March is Small Press Month, and 2006 marks the tenth anniversary of this annual event. Small Press Month was jointly founded by the Small Press Center and PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association (formerly the Publishers Marketing Association) to increase awareness and support of the small press and independent publishing communities.

The definition of a small press varies, but typically small presses publish smaller print runs and fewer titles than the huge publishing houses. Small presses are also noted for their willingness to take chances on first-time authors and to publish works on subjects other publishers deem "noncommercial." In other words, some of the freshest voices and most creative works can be found with small press publishers.

This month the Gapers Block book club is doing its part to support Small Press Month by reading Memory Mambo by Achy Obejas, our current book club pick. Memory Mambo is published by Cleis Press, which, according to the website, is the largest independent queer publishing company in the country. Although Cleis Press is based in California, author Achy Obejas resides in Chicago. Find out more about the book club at the end of the column.

Some people, however, believe the Chicago area has no literary publishing industry. Not true. While Chicago's high-profile textbook, reference and technical publishers may get most of the public attention, Illinois is home to dozens of small presses and independent publishers, many based in or near Chicago. Although some focus on non-fiction subjects, just as many publish literature and poetry. The resources below will help you get started exploring the city's small press publishing landscape. You may just discover a new favorite book or author, and more than a few other treasures.

Presses and Independent Publishers

Hourglass Books
Based in Lindenhurst, Ill., Hourglass Books publishes anthologies of short fiction by well-known and lesser-known writers.

Lake Claremont Press
Founded in 1994, Lake Claremont Press publishes titles in local Chicago history and specialized guidebooks. Some of their most popular titles include Chicago Haunts: Ghostlore of the Windy City by Ursula Bielski and A Native's Guide to Chicago, which is now in its fourth edition.

A Small Garlic Press
A Small Garlic Press is a non-profit press, staff by volunteers. It was started in 1995 and publishes poetry chapbooks.

Surrey Books
Surrey Books has been in business for more than 20 years. The company specializes in cookbooks and lifestyle titles.

Swan Isle Press
Founded in 1999, Swan Isle Press is an independent, non-profit publisher that focuses on "books related to Spanish and Latin American literature, art, and culture." many of the books are issued in bilingual editions.

Third World Press
Third World Press is one of the country's oldest and most well-known independent publishers that focuses on titles reflecting "issues, themes, and critique related to an African American public." Founded in 1967, the press has published works by writers such as Haki Madhubuti and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Twilight Tales
Twilight Tales publishes anthologies of stories by authors featured at the Twilight Tales reading series in Chicago. The collections include stories in the mystery, science fiction, horror and fantasy genres.


Independent Publishing Group
Based in Chicago, the Independent Publishing Group is a major distributor for small press, academic press and other independent publishers. Browse the huge list of titles by subject, author or publisher, or check out the small press selection catalog, which features the best books from the smallest of the small presses.

Small Press Distribution
Small Press Distribution is a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to distributing small press fiction, poetry and cultural writing. Browse featured titles and new titles on the website, and see the list of participating publishers to discover even more great reads.


Independent Book Publishers Association
According to the website, "PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association is a trade association for of independent publishers" with more than 4,000 members from across the country and around the world. You can browse their member directory by state to find a lengthy list of additional small presses and independent publishers in Illinois.

Small Press Center
The Small Press Center is dedicated to education about, and raising awareness and support for, small presses and independent publishers.

Small Publishers Association of North America
From the website, "SPAN is a nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing the interests and expertise of independent publishers." The organization holds an annual conference and boasts more than 1,000 members.


Join the Gapers Block Book Club! Just sign up for the email list for news, announcements and more. And, visit the book club forum to discuss the book online. This month we are reading Memory Mambo by Achy Obejas. We will be meeting to discuss the book on Monday, April 10, at The Book Cellar, located at 4736 N. Lincoln Ave. The meeting will begin at 7:30pm.

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About the Author(s)

Alice Maggio is a Chicago librarian. She welcomes questions and topic suggestions for her column at . Due to the volume of email received, she may not reply to every query, but you may be contacted if your question is selected for the column.

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