With an expanded list that includes more high-profile books, Dalkey Archive Press has signed on with W.W. Norton to take over distribution for the nonprofit press at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill. Martin Riker, associate director of Dalkey, had headed Dalkey's in-house sales effort (with fulfillment through University of Nebraska Press), but said the move to Norton will get the press's titles into many more outlets. “We held out about moving to a distributor because we liked the interaction with accounts,” Riker said, “but Norton is a perfect fit.” Among Norton's distribution clients is New Directions, whose late founder, James Laughlin, was a major influence on Dalkey publisher John O'Brien.
Another incentive to move to Norton is the forthcoming launch of Best European Fiction 2010, edited by Bosnian novelist Aleksandar Hemon, set to be released next January. Riker—and the Dalkey catalogue—calls the title the most ambitious editorial project in Dalkey's history. Best, which Dalkey has been working on for more than two years, is envisioned as the first in an annual anthology of stories from across Europe. Riker, who will now be focusing on Dalkey's public relations and marketing, is planning launch events in London; Washington, D.C.; and New York for Best, which is touted as providing a window into Europe's literary scene. The move to Norton is expected to help boost the sale of Best, as well as Dalkey's other titles, in the international market as well as in the academic and institutional channels.
Riker said business has been okay in 2009, helped by the recently released News from the Empire by the Mexican writer Fernando del Paso. The novel, about the brief reign of Maximilian and his wife, Carlotta, which received a PW starred review, sold out its first printing of 5,000 copies; Riker is deciding on how big a second run to order.
Although best known for its translations, which comprise 70% of its list, Riker noted that Dalkey considers itself an international publisher that publishes English-speaking and American authors as well as books in translation. Altogether, Dalkey is now publishing 45—50 titles annually, a number Riker said the press is comfortable with. And with Norton's help, it expects to do higher print runs for many of its titles.