“If you lived here… ” is a collection of short stories published by “Replacement Press,” a husband-wife publishing team based in St. Paul.
This is a big weekend for Andrew De Young. On Friday his publishing house “Replacement Press” launches its first book. And on Sunday, De Young turns 27.
De Young and his wife Sarah make up the entire staff of their publishing house, or should I say ‘publishing apartment’ since the entire operation is housed in their Highland neighborhood rental. De Young says his desire to start publishing grew out of his own concern for the industry.
You hear in the industry a lot of speculation: “Gen Y is not going to read.” I felt personally about it because those are my people, and I’m invested in the future of books. But at the same time, I was realizing some things make the future brighter. There have been advances in technology – e-books, printing on demand – that make it easier for a diversity of voices to get into print. Now it’s a possibility for a couple like my wife and I with a little bit of know-how to start a publishing company of our own.
By day De Young works as a project manager at Augsburg Fortress Publishers and his wife is a graphic designer at Riley Hayes Advertising. He works with text, while she works with layout and images (including their website).
It’s pretty gutsy for a young couple to start up a new literary press in the same town that is home to Coffee House Press, Milkweed Editions and Graywolf Press, three of the nations top five independent literary presses. But De Young looks to the publishing scenes on the east and west coasts, where little independent presses are popping up all the time.
It’s daunting for us to be taking our place next to these three – and in some respects we’d never put our names next to theirs. It’s humbling – we have nothing but love for them. We just want to do something that we’re passionate about.
De Young says he and his wife are not trying to fill a void in the Twin Cities publishing scene. Instead they see themselves as ‘the next guard,’ forging a new literary culture that will eventually “replace” (hence the name) the writers and readers that keep the scene thriving today.
In that vein, John Jodzio is actually a little bit on the outside of the age range (read that “older”) De Young was initially aiming for in his writers. But De Young says Jodzio is an emerging writer, and the book captures the voice of the audience he’s trying to reach.
What speaks most to me is the characters’ sense of disappointment – they’re not where they expected to be. They’re disappointed with the world as they find it. And I think that speaks to a lot of people right now. The voice is perfect, hardnosed, but with humor.
De Young doesn’t really know who his audience will be – he just started selling books on Monday – so he’s excited to see who will turn up at Friday’s release at Magers and Quinn. De Young says his biggest fear is that the initial attention the press is getting will fade, and with it, so will book sales for Jodzio.
John is a really excellent writer and he took a risk on us. He didn’t know if we were going to do right by him, and I think as far as the book is concerned, we did. But I really want to do right by him in terms of generating a lot of sales, support and exposure. I really want to launch his career.
As a young publisher, De Young does have a few things in his favor. Things like facebook and twitter are second nature to him, whereas they might seem like an added communications burden to folks who’ve already been in the business awhile. And financially Replacement Press can be pretty nimble.
We don’t have to have a warehouse, spend as much on shipping, or deal with returns from bookstores. So while we’re financing it out of our personal savings, we’re not starving.
As such, De Young, says they’re more likely to take chances on someone unknown who deserves to be discovered. He says ultimately he hopes to publish three or four books a year, but it will take some time for Replacement Press to build its capacity.
You can read an excerpt from John Jodzio’s “If you lived here you’d already be home” at the Replacement Press website.