The closing of Impetus Press located in Iowa City reminds us here at Wylie-Merrick what it’s like to fight the good fight and lose. Although we are not closing our doors, we have had to close to new writers. However, this story reminds us of the extra effort it takes to operate in what’s known as “Fly Over Country,” the backwater a few of the editors we deal with probably will never see or understand.
Art happens where it happens and, even though New York City thinks of itself as the center of the universe, most art happens elsewhere. It just ends up on one of the coasts because that’s where all the big buildings are, and it’s way easier and much hipper to have a book launch in a big building next to a great catering facility than it is to have one in the school gym next to a local steakhouse, even if they have really good steak.
Excuse me for being bitchy, but when I read about Impetus Press closing, it saddened me to think that yet another source for good books had been defeated by the unrelenting tide of mega bookstore returns. It’s also sad that poor distribution has claimed yet another victim in the war of art—or at least a good read--over commercial glop. It saddens me that what Willy Blackmore, whose great-grandfather was John Farrar of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and writer Jennifer Banash have failed not because they didn’t have a decent product, but because of a bad economic climate and the overwhelming tide of book returns. And yet another small publisher is gone. What would John Farrar think of a present publishing system that allows a distribution mess that favors the bookstore over the publisher? What would he think of an industry in which his great grandson failed even while trying to publish in the tradition that made his press world famous?
Impetus tried to publish books in the old tradition, books that created readers instead of cookie cutter novels that are published to give their readers instant gratification-beach reads and glop that’s forgotten the instant the book is dropped in the sand. As was once said, a great novel changes its reader—not anymore.
Publishing today looks for the next best-seller or which small publisher’s backlist can be next acquired. Art is not even considered as great new authors wait in the wings for spaces consistently occupied by the same big name authors. They wait patiently for their voices to become silent or fall out of favor. Unfortunately, many of them give up.
Impetus was only in business for three short years, but they made quite an impact during that time. Jennifer loved her authors and she and Willy are trying to place them with other presses. We wish them all good luck and God’s speed.