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Ferrying artists and authors back from the 19th and early 20th centuries

charon's barque: a blog and miscellany

there'll be some changes made

22 March 2023

The Obolus Press is leaving Amazon and all other online bookstores. New titles will only be available directly from this web site.

Readers of my old blog will remember how irritated I was a couple of years ago, when it took three weeks to resolve a straightforward problem with an e-book on the Kindle store: There was some confusion among the Amazonians as to whether or not Camille Mauclair (1872–1945) was truly dead, or if he might still be knocking around Paris and entitled to a share of my royalties.

At the time I wondered if it was wise to cede so much control over my business to a third party, especially to a third party where this kind of bureaucratic torpor walks hand in hand with treachery and deceit. In the end I withdrew from the Kindle store.

Well, seeing that Obolus Press titles were frequently overpriced or listed as out of stock on other web sites, I've decided to bring all distribution in house. It will be less exasperating to deal with customers directly and not rely on big retailers who treat their employees shabbily.

One of the things I most dislike about the traditional publishing model is that I have no idea who buys my work. Translating can be a lonely occupation, and if nothing else this change will allow me to interact with people a little more often; I would like to have some acquaintance with readers, however superficial and fleeting it may be. As E. M. Forster said: “Only connect!”

There’s also the question of quality control. One person who reviewed my translation of Maurice Utrillo’s biography on Amazon complained of terribly washed-out colours. Did my erstwhile printer and distributor, Ingram’s Lightning Source, ship out junk? I don't know. I'm afraid they might have. If I pick and pack my own orders, I can be certain that the books are up to snuff.

My plan is to focus on higher quality, limited editions from now on. I would rather sell fewer copies to a group of discerning people than be a cog in someone else's mediocre machine: contentus paucis lectoribus.

Title of this post played by the chicago rhythm kings