This December, Portland publisher Future Tense Books will work with the innovative printing team at Pinball Publishing to co-publish a new series of Scout Book chapbooks. Future Tense editors Kevin Sampsell and Bryan Coffelt have announced the first three titles in the partnership, with more to be announced in 2013.
The Scout Books are 32 pages long and are 3.5″ x 5″ and will be printed in limited runs of 500 for each title, and will be available in stores and online.
The following three books will be released simultaneously:
When I Was Nineteen, I Was an Old Man by Melody Owen
(a selection from Melody’s actual dream journals mixed with atmospheric collages from the acclaimed Portland artist, who is represented nationally by Elizabeth Leach Gallery)
A Secondary Landscape by Aaron Gilbreath
(Gilbreath is a Portland nonfiction writer whose work has appeared in the Paris Review, Oxford American, Tin House, and the New York Times.)
Presidents (And Other Jokes) by Sommer Browning
(a collection of jokes and cartoons that showcase the acerbic wit and an acute sense of the absurd from the Denver poet and author of Either Way I’m Celebrating [Birds, LLC])
We asked Kevin Sampsell a few questions about this new partnership:
Paper Fort: How did this partnership come about?
Kevin Sampsell: I’ve actually known Austin and Laura Whipple for longer than Pinball has been around and before they moved to Portland. They use to publish Eye-Rhyme, a great literary journal out of southern Oregon and I was in a couple of issues.
When they started Pinball Publishing as their print business ten years ago, I was really happy for them and they offered to help with Future Tense projects whenever I wanted. Laura did the layout for one of the chapbooks I published eight years ago, Strategies For Modern Living by Charles Ullmannm, and it was beautiful.
They’ve always been fans and big supporters of Future Tense. When they started doing Scout Books, I remarked on how they looked like little chapbooks and I think they were thinking the same thing. And both Austin and Laura love collaborating with people, so we came up with the plan to try out this series.
Paper Fort: What excites you most about the scout book/chapbook format?
Kevin: I think that chapbooks in general are great little samplers or introductions for writers. They’re inexpensive and fast-to-read. Instead of forking over fifteen or twenty-dollars for a new book they may not like, it’s more like five bucks. And especially at readings, chapbooks are like the mementos people can buy to remember the evening by. I like taking chapbooks with me on my Max ride to work because I can usually read an entire one in a couple of trips. The Scout books especially, are easy to handle—they’re pocket-sized, hand-sized—and they’re so elegantly designed. That’s a good word for them—they’re elegant.
Paper Fort: How did you go about selecting this work for the Scout Books?
Kevin: My Future Tense partner, Bryan Coffelt, and I wanted to make sure we could create little books that would deliver a solid punch. And it’s a good chance to work with some writers that we’ve always wanted to partner with. For these first three, I have always wanted there to be an Aaron Gilbreath book of some kind and I know that some of his essays are longer and as detailed as many books, and this one, A Secondary Landscape, is perfect as a little book.
I’ve worked with Melody Owen for a long time as well and she has done some artwork for me in the past. She even did the collages that are in that first Future Tense edition of my memoir, A Common Pornography. And I’ve always liked her writing. She used to send me her little zines in the mail before she got more heavily into the art scene. Bryan and I both love Sommer Browning and think she’s hilarious, so her little book of jokes—they kind of remind me of Steven Wright mixed with Sarah Vowel—will surely be an odd little object that people will be cracking up about.
PF: Are you accepting submissions for future titles?
Kevin: We’re going to see how this first batch does. We do already have a pretty good idea of who will be in the next three books though, and we’ll announce them in a few months and hopefully they’ll come out next summer. I am super excited about those too. After that, we may look at submissions. Both Bryan and I are pretty active readers and we’re meeting writers all the time at readings or wherever, so we almost don’t have to take submissions. We find writing that excites us and we go after it. We’re proactive that way.