OR Books Takes “Launch Party” Literally

By Neal Comment


While some of us were taking a last-minute stroll through the Javits Center to close out BookExpo America, John Oakes (with the bullhorn) and Colin Robinson took a bunch of their friends out on the historic fireboat John J. Harvey—you may remember the upcoming memoir by its mechanic, Jessica Dulong—to celebrate the launch of their new publishing company, OR Books. The two plan to dedicate themselves to publishing in print-on-demand and electronic formats, focusing their attention on independent bookstores and direct consumer sales. They also plan to publish no more than two books a month, preferring content with “a distinctive progressive edge, reflecting the new era of the Obama presidency and the economic and environmental challenges it faces,” according to their press release. (“As in the wake of 9/11,” the announcement continued, “the severity of these crises is pushing wide audiences to engage at new levels with what is happening in the world around them. OR Books will be positioned to satisfy this demand.”) You can find out more about their vision in a video they shot earlier this spring; the first books are scheduled to ship in September.

Among the others who’ve signed on are novelists Lisa Dierbeck, Josh Furst, and Dale Peck and the journalist Choire Sicha, all of whom were aboard the boat—along with Obama’s favorite new novelist, Joseph O’Neill, and several other supportive authors, agents, and publishing executives.

(photo: Miriam Berkley)

UPDATE: Sicha emails to clarify, “Mischief & Mayhem, a new publishing outfit composed of the four authors you name plus the wonderful D.W. Gibson, is now working towards an agreement with OR Books. After all, we share a common vision of how book publishing desperately needs to be changed radically, and we’re looking forward to coming to an arrangement with John and Colin where we join forces to bring exciting, risk-taking books to readers.”