Happy New Year

Wed 31 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Bye-bye 2008! We will barely miss you. There was one fantastic thing, which was nigh-unthinkable in January—President Barack Hussein Obama, baby!—which will make 2009 by definition interesting times.

Our thanks to the people who: wrote the books we published, helped us publish them, bought them, reviewed them, pushed them on friends, and generally helped get these books we’re immensely proud of out into the world.

In 2009 there will be more books—we’re making a go of running this as a business, fingers crossed—and some changes, of course, because stultification is for dummies. Our fall list is small, but powerful, and in spring 2010 (which is next season according to our distributor), we have some lovely books.

But that’s then, this is now. Happy New Year! Or, Happy Midwinter, or Midsummer! Go give someone you love a hug and tell them to pass it on.

last chance for literary immortality

Tue 30 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Order your copy of Greer Gilman’s Cloud & Ashes now and your name will be printed on the inside of the dust-jacket, as a special thanks to dedicated readers. This special offer runs through December 31st, 2008 and only applies to orders made through the Small Beer Press website or using this form.

catch all

Tue 30 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

It’s pre-tax madness around here. Who didn’t make those estimated payments? Oops. Ok, must go fix that now. In the meantime, these:

Couch winners

Mon 29 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

About.com and Barnes & Noble enjoy getting on the Couch. It’s like a hit, or something:

Literary and historical allusions sprinkled throughout make the novel something of a treasure hunt, and a bit of bathrobe philosophizing in parts will make you go “hm.” Couch is a quick and funny read, a short fable that ensnares us in its quixotic intentions and encourages us to believe for a short time in something magic, even if it is just a couch.


Once upon a time, Donald Barthelme, Jonathan Lethem and Umberto Eco attended a film festival together. The featured flicks were Kiss Me Deadly, Fitzcarraldo, and Repo Man . Inspired by this odd bill of fare, the trio set out to collaborate on a novel. The result was Benjamin Parzybok’s debut, Couch . Not the way it happened? Well, it’s a genesis story competely in keeping with this gonzo odyssey.

Parzybok’s easy voice is guileless and contemporary, fluid and colorful as that of Tom Robbins, yet concealing considerable craft. His intermittent switching among the consciousnesses of his trio — and even including other secondary viewpoints — is not a classical strategy, but it works pretty well. Privileging Thom’s perspective, Parzybok delivers a funny yet deep novel that’s all about the quest to pass from a stultifying, aimless, safe stasis to a dangerous yet fulfilling uncertainty — via one humble piece of furniture (see locations for LA Furniture Store).

And: we have winners — and thanks to everyone who sent in pics! — in our Couch photo competition: Gina Teh and Lea Deutsch. Got to love the sunlight and lack of snow in these photos. More pics here:

CouchAt the office

Tue 23 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Something new for the website: join us on Goodreads:


Tue 23 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Something new for the website: join us on Goodreads:


4 agents + some wine = good conversation

Sat 20 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

0901agents_homepage.jpgThe latest issue of Poets & Writers has a great, solid, seitan-y* conversation between four agents, “The New Guard,” as they’re deemed: Julie Barer (Barer Literary), Jeff Kleinman (Folio Literary Management), Daniel Lazar (Writers House), and Kelly’s agent, Renee Zuckerbrot (Renee Zuckerbrot Literary Agency) where the four of them were given plenty of space to talk.

It’s like reading the transcript of a focused panel (with a skilled moderator) where everyone got to say everything (or almost everything, no doubt) that they wanted to say. There is a lot of really useful information for writers—and anyone with any interest in the business of publishing:

ZUCKERBROT: The point is, how do we create a new generation of readers? That’s one of the many reasons why Harry Potter has been so fabulous. We have to grow new generations of readers. And technology can help. I’m a dinosaur. I grew up with books and typewriters. But this new generation wants all the gadgets. They want to be able to play with it and they want to be nimble.

BARER: I have to say, I really hate this debate of either/or. That we’re either going to become this electronic world or we’re going to be dinosaurs. Hopefully we will continue to grow readers, and people will read in several mediums, whether it’s on their computers or on their e-book-version whatevers or on the printed page. The goal of agents and publishers is to keep finding ways in which we can reach as many of those readers as possible and provide as many opportunities for them to read our books as we can. Not just one way, but many ways.

KLEINMAN: That’s the problem. I don’t think that’s what publishers are doing now. They are going by the same old Paleolithic ways of doing things. They are translating this ancient technique of reading into the Kindle. But it’s the same thing. And I think it needs to be something different.

Start Here.

And once there, you might dig around, like the other PW, Poets & Writers don’t skimp on the online material. (You know, that stuff you’re skimming instead of reading a book.)

*it’s like meaty without increasing your chance of colorectal cancers.

Music for whiteouts

Fri 19 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

A couple of days ago we had this lovely little practice snowfall: about 2-3 inches (that’s 5-7 cm, for the rest of the world), enough to shovel in 15 minutes or so before heading into the office. Shovelling got the blood going—and the shovels had to be gotten from the basement and sand picked up from the recycling depot, so everything is ready for today, when, to the joy of TV weatherfolks everywhere, an actual storm has actually arrived.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Dearly Departed: True Lies In Song Unearthed From Lone FirThere were some other people at the office this morning and we shipped out some last minute orders and got somewhat ready for end of the year financial reports (what recession? Oh, that one), how exciting. And then at some point Kelly called and pointed out that the snow had started. So I skidded home, got the woodstove going in the back room, and now there’s some work being done here (reading, editing, tea drinking) and soon there will be a fully-fledged expedition into the snow to acquire some fresh air, red cheeks, and a thirst for hot cider.

In the meantime, here’s a strong music rec for y’all: Dearly Departed: True Lies In Song Unearthed From Lone Fir, a slow-building addictive collection of “Original ballads, songs and waltzes, by Portland musicians, of the untimely demise of some of Lone Fir cemetery’s more famous residents.” Get yer dancing shoes on, get ye a partner, get ye’s to the cemetery, and get ready to cry, drink, and dance yourselves to death.

Send them all away

Thu 18 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The NYTimes reports on the Senate Armed Services Committee report whose conclusions—”what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff”—will surprise neither those reading it nor those who are about to be charged.

It’s been an embarrassing 8 years and Obama had better not let these people get away with what they’ve done to the people, the laws, and the reputation of this country.

The LoveSling

Thu 18 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The first story in the new ish of LCRW is “The LoveSling” by newish writer Nick Wolven. Nick’s sold a couple of stories here and there, including Asimov’s and Paradox. One of the things we liked about this story was that it was weird and somewhat cheery—seems like most stories are about the ends of things, and things have, you know, gone badly. This story’s about the end of something and the start of something else, and it’s fun. And, we have a couple of spot illustrations from a Jack of All Trades and Master of More Than You Could Ever Imagine, Chris Nakashima-Brown:

The package was larger than they had expected.

It took up nearly the entire foyer: a battered cardboard box sealed with packing tape. They had to push it down the hall to the bedroom, sliding it over the wood floor. In the bedroom, Andrew cut the packing tape with a key. He reached into the box and drew out a card.

“The LoveSling,” he read. “A dramatic new tool for mega love increasement. For bringing couples together and aggrandizing overall joy. Hooks into most things with facile assembly.” He lowered the card. “It must be from a foreign country.”

“They had a picture in the catalog,” Amy said. “It looked kind of like a spider.”

“And why do we need this thing, again?” Andrew said.

“To give the bed a rest, stud.” Amy knelt by the box. “I thought it would be fun. A new house. A new spouse. A new suite of romantic positions. We’ve worked through three books and two foreign DVDs; we’ve even taken tips from your perverted crew of friends. We’ve exhausted the potentialities of all level surfaces.” She pushed her hair back. “I thought we should effect a comprehensive paradigm shift.”

“I love it when you talk dirty,” Andrew said, and kissed her ear.

Read the rest in LCRW #23.

Ponzi & Other Schemes

Wed 17 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Ponzi schemes: anyone want to invest $50bn with us? $5bn? Letters and cheques to the usual address.

We promise to at least deliver you some very nice books, if not the kind of “returns” Bernard Madoff was promising. Ah, the system shows itself to be built on sand after all. What’s that? No more foundation money for us? But… but… we had been relying on… oh, yes, that old thing: sales. Fingers crossed that Couch and The Serial Garden keep doing what they’re doing!

Chocolate update: Apparently the Chocnomicon has shipped! Meanwhile we must try this. (Via, um, forget.)

Is it ok to lift links wholesale? Because that’s how we got this first chunk (hope you don’t mind, Ben!):

Fun with “The Ant King and Other Stories”:

The Serial Garden:

  • Garth Nix reveals the reason he was happy to write an introduction.
  • The Harvard Book Store chose it for their Holiday Hundred List and have stacked it up in unmissably high piles throughout the store—all at 20% off. Yay!
  • “An excellent way to show Harry Potter fans that magic can come in small doses too.”
    Author Magazine
  • “The Armitage’s world grows richer as it is extended. This is a collection of stories which allow — in fact demand — the reader joins in with their own imagination and remakes the story inside their own head. Aiken’s pragmatism shows through in her stories. Instead of remaining in or reflecting upon the past like some of her contemporaries, they show an author making the best of the world and coming out ahead with humor and imagination.”
    January Magazine

What’s going on with Couch? We got some great entries in the couch competition and we’ll get those online and announce the winner soon. We have a small and exciting Portland-based surprise, more about that in January; John Joseph Adams talked to Ben about it at Sci-Fi Wire; and it’s an Indie Next List pick for January and we are going to force Ben back out on the road. He puts on a good show: there’s the couch moving part, the crying, the sharks, the whole 4,000 miles in 20 minutes or so.

Making Howard finish a book

Tue 16 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Waldrop is back in Austin recovering from his latest bout with the health industrial complex. He had quintuple bypass surgery this summer then some follow-up stuff just for fun. The good news is that the VA hospital forgave part of the cost. The bad news is that he will need to sell a few more stories to Playboy and The New Yorker to pay the rest of the bill.

We really don’t want Howard to die, then for some geniuses to discover him and make movies and tons of moolah for his descendants—although since Ed Park selected Other Worlds, Better Lives as one of the Best SF Books of 2008 in the LA Times, maybe interns in La-La Land will alert the higher-ups and someone will read the book and before you can say Bo Diddley, “A Dozen Tough Jobs” will be in the theaters.

So maybe while we wait for that (and for Howard to finish The Moone World) to happen we will ask Howard to write up some more bloggity posts about all this and make a pretty little book out of it. We could ask a Texas illustrator or two to make some pretty pictures, send the pages to Howard to sign (he’s getting better every day, he can sign some pages), and maybe raise some money for the guy io9 says Built Your Crappy Future Word by Word. (He also built some excellent pasts.) So, maybe in spring?

Ted Chiang: The Problem of the Traveling Salesman

Mon 15 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

http://lcrw.net/images/people/chiangted2.jpgThis week we’ll be highlighting some of the content in the latest issue of  LCRW which we mailed out last week.

One of the standouts is a nonfiction piece from one of the best writers we know, Ted Chiang. Ted’s fiction is absolutely brilliant. His first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, has probably blown more minds than LSD. That may be an exaggeration, but not much. Most of the stories won awards and the title story is unspeakably heartbreaking.

“The Problem of the Traveling Salesman” isn’t heartbreaking (although it does make for a fun essay) unless you’re trying to solve the problem:

Suppose you’re a traveling salesman and you have a list of cities you need to visit. Gasoline is extremely expensive, so the problem you’re faced with is, what order should you visit the cities in to keep your fuel costs to an absolute minimum?

This is what’s known in computer science as the Traveling Salesman Problem, and while it’s easy to state, it’s actually a very difficult problem to solve. So difficult, in fact, that a really good solution would have an dramatic impact on our understanding of the nature of the universe. In this article, I’m going to try to give a brief, non-technical explanation of why this is the case.

To begin with, let’s consider the problem of sorting. When you’re playing a card game, probably the first thing you do when you’re dealt a hand is arrange the cards into order. A common way to do this is to take the card at the end and insert it next to another card so that the two of them are in order; then repeat with the card that’s at the end now, and so on until your entire hand is in order. This is a perfectly good algorithm when you have five or seven cards to deal with; you’d probably use it even if you had ten or twenty cards.

But now suppose you’re given a box containing fifty thousand index cards with words on them, and you have to sort them into alphabetical order. Now the previously described algorithm no longer seems practical. You’ll probably want to try something else; for example, you might sort the cards into piles “A–M” and “N–Z,” and then sort each of those two into smaller piles, and so on. Such a technique isn’t useful when dealing with just five or ten cards, but when dealing with fifty thousand, its advantage becomes apparent.

This is one of the most important criteria by which computer programmers judge an algorithm: how well does it deal with large numbers of items? We all expect that a task will take longer when you have more items to deal with; the question is, how much longer?

Read the rest in LCRW #23.

Headline of the day

Thu 11 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Remember that guy Oprah leaned on? He bought Tesla Roadster #100

Oliver Postgate, RIP

Thu 11 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin


government kills 37 too many

Thu 11 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

From The Scotsman:

THE number of executions in the United States has fallen to a 14-year low of 37 this year as social concerns about the death penalty and its financial costs rise, the Death Penalty Information Centre said.

It is the third consecutive year of a fall in executions, and the number of death sentences handed down continues to decline.

shipping dates

Tue 9 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Looks like we have to ship books out by the following dates for Xmas (or other December 25th celebrations) arrival (although finding this information on the USPS website is almost impossible):

  • Dec 4 Priority Mail to Africa, Central & South America
  • Dec. 11 Priority Mail: Asia, Pacific Rim, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Middle East
  • Dec. 15 Domestic Parcel Post
  • Dec. 20 Domestic First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 20 Domestic Priority Mail
  • Dec. 22 Domestic Express Mail
    NOTE:  Express Mail deliveries 365 days per year (in many areas), including Christmas Day

Also: post office package prices are rising in January 18th (our prices include Media Mail shipping so this won’t affect most of our shipping):

Flat Rate Envelopes and Boxes Retail Commercial Base Commercial Plus
Priority Mail —
Envelope $4.95 $4.80 $4.75
Small box $4.95 $4.80 $4.75
Regular box $10.35 $9.85 $9.67
Large box $13.95 $13.50 $13.27
Large box (APO/FPO) $11.95 $11.50 $11.30
Express Mail —
Envelope $17.50 $16.63 $14.96

Gavin Chunters On

Mon 8 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Charles Tan asks the questions:

YBF&H 21In the US it’s mostly only tea, coffee, and coffee that are Fair Trade whereas in the UK there are many more products. I think its very important to support Fair Trade and other programs like that. I’d rather (and this is a currently skint penny-pinching Scot talking) buy something made by employees paid a fair wage to encourage that market than to buy a bunch of cheap shit made in factories where wages and labor laws are a joke.

and on and on

more online reading

Mon 8 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Two more annoyingly good blogs to add to the reader: Kassia Krozser’s Booksquare—for her talk about books, ebooks, killing imprints (although we just started one, so what do we know), and so on—and the 26th Story (you know, the one where all the words start with Z) which talked about an idea we’ve seen before and made us think we should do it: offering ebooks as cheap add-ons (or premiums?) to people who buy the lovely paper versions from us. So we’ll be doing that then.

So far the score here is:

  • Firings: 0 (there aren’t enough of us to fire anyone)
  • Federal Bailout: 0 (given a small, $7-8 billion temporary loan we’re quite sure we would survive well into next year).

video hits 100,000 views

Mon 8 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

We can’t take any credit for this—except for thinking, “Wow, cool, must record,” while at the Hugo Award ceremonies in Yokohama, Japan, in 2007—but this is our first vid to hit 100,000 views, just visit Video production miami beach. Can it be long until some of our author interviews break the 100K mark, too?

wanted for the office

Fri 5 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

although 23″ x 46″ isn’t as big as we could really do with:


cats, tags

Wed 3 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

are these post things meant to have categories and tags or is that just wordpress messing with us?

recession prices and all our ebooks in one place

Wed 3 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Small Beer Press driveHey, we just dropped the prices on a bunch of books. If you have them already, yay! (They make good presents….) If that doesn’t work, don’t worry, next year we will publish Many Good Books.

2) All Our Base Can Belong To You. The Whole Small Beer Ebook Package: 20 books, the current LCRW, various podcasts and movies on a handy 2 GB flash drive all yours for $99.95.

What does it take

Wed 3 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 4 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Let the Right One in Coverto get us out the house on a cold night: a film like “Let the Right One In.” Kelly had really enjoyed the novel and it’s showing at the tiny theatre in our town. It’s apparently a faithful adaptation and it’s discomforting, spooky, strange, calm, and very much worth getting out to see.

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