Jonathan Evison and Frank Norris. Matt Groening and Eric Knight. Sherman Alexie and Todd Walton. What do these duos have in common? Pharos Editions, a new imprint from the Seattle indie, Dark Coast Press. Pharos is dedicated to bringing out-of-print books back into circulation, with the help of big-name authors. The imprint, which is shipping its first slate of titles in May, is also invested in the look and feel of its books, doing design-minded paperbacks with french flaps and high-quality paper.
"Overlooked gems," is how Harry Kirchner, editor of Pharos, describes his list. The books will, Kirchner said, have a "letter press look." Most, he added, will out-of-print or "lost, or otherwise rare books of distinction." Pharos is working with established authors who will select each title, identifying a book, Kirchner said, of "personal importance." The books will be titles "they want to turn their fans onto; books they want to see brought back to market." Each author is then providing an introduction to their selected title.
Although Pharos is focused on print, the imprint is acquiring digital rights, Kirchner said, "when available." When Pharos is able to acquire digital rights, it will be releasing its e-books through Dark Coast. Kirchner is offering advances and said he will be printing titles "conservatively" based, largely, on the size of said advance. He added that he hopes to get the initial list wider distribution through the library market, and then "reprint as needed."
Generally, Kirchner said, the acquisition process is one in which the authors Pharos is working with select a title and then Kirchner and his staff "go out and try to secure the rights." Although many deals are for a single title, Kirchner said that a multi-book deal grew out of an acquisition for a title on the first list. Pharos negotiated directly with Todd Walton to acquire rights to his 1980 novel Inside Moves (which Sherman Alexie selected), and wound up acquiring e-right to four of the author's other novels.
As for the authors doing the selections, currently Kirchner and his team are approaching them. He said Pharos is reaching out to "contemporary writers we know, and whose work we respect."