Toby Press, a new publishing house founded in the U.K. by American expatriate Matthew Miller, boasts a few distinctive twists. The company, whose first list comes out in October, will publish only new fiction. It will publish only in high-quality hardcover editions without jackets. It will publish in four seasons. It will sell only directly, bypassing bookstores.
Miller explained, "My idea is to publish five or six books every three months, promote them correctly, take 40% off the cover price, and instead of giving that to the reseller, put it into advertising, direct mail and other promotion. The object is not to have 1000 books and get them to wholesalers and see what will happen. I will do a few books and market them really well. There is an awful lot of good writing out there."
Toby Press will sell three distinct ways, via its catalogue, direct mail and Web site. Miller emphasized that he d sn't see the company as a Web bookseller. "The Internet is just one of the means for reaching readers," he told PW. Likewise, Miller is hesitant about the possibility of using e-books or publishing on the Web -- at least for now.
All ads, mailings and the catalogue will include a toll-free number for ordering and the company's Web site (www.tobypress.com). The company, which prefers to be known as TobyPress.com, will also sell to libraries through Severn House, which specializes in library distribution.
About half of the press's list will be translations from other languages, and half will be English-language originals. The first list consists of Failing Paris by Samantha Dunn, Absence by Raymond Tallis, The Masterpiece by Anna Enquist, Cardiofitness by Allessandra Montrucchio, After the Campfires by Per Jorner and The Forwarding Agent by Austen Kark. Dunn is American; Tallis and Kark are English; the others were translated from Italian, Dutch and Swedish. Each book will cost between $24.99 and $37.99 and appear in printings of 5000-10,000 copies.
TobyPress.com will spend $250,000 on advertising for two months this fall in such literary publications as the New Yorker, Granta and the New York Times Book Review. Because it is targeting a fiction audience -- "35-year-old women read a lot more fiction than men," Miller said -- the company will also run ads in Victoria, Martha Stewart Living and Smithsonian.
Because of its unusual distribution approach, TobyPress.com titles will be distinctive in several ways. For one, the books will not have bar codes. Authors won't be able to go on conventional author tours -- at least to bookstores.
TobyPress.com's U.S. order and information address is P.O. Box 8531, New Milford, Conn. 06776-8531; universal free phone: 011-800-1800-3600; universal free fax: 011-800-1800-3700.