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Changes Hit Gay/ Lesbian Businesses
Kevin Howell -- 7/24/00
The announcement of Glad Day's impending closing several weeks ago (Bookselling, June 26) was just one of several upheavals in feminist and gay/lesbian book circles in recent weeks.
Two lesbian publishing houses are in transition: Nancy Bereano, president of the 16-year-old Firebrand Press, has sold her company to LPC Group; and Naiad Press owners Barbara Grier and Donna J. McBride have sold their backlist and most author contracts to Bella Books in Ferndale, Mich., which has also hired the majority of Naiad's staff, including proofreaders, editors and cover artists.
Moreover, Carol Seajay, longtime editor of the bimonthly Feminist Bookstore News, is giving up the reins of that 24-year-old publication and negotiating with others to take it over (see this week's Bookselling).
Founded in 1985, Firebrand Books is a feminist and lesbian publishing house perhaps best known for publishing Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues, the Dykes to Watch Out For series by Alison Bechdel and Dorothy Allison's earlier work. Nancy Bereano told PW that she was "delighted that this sale to LPC will help keep Firebrand's titles alive, and I look forward to working with them on future projects." LPC, which has distributed Firebrand for the last five years, plans to continue to publish a limited number of titles under the Firebrand imprint each year. Bereano said she would be involved in Firebrand's future, although nothing had been worked out yet.
"Naiad is getting smaller, but we're not closing or retiring," Naiad founder Grier told PW. "What we did won't make sense to you because it d sn't happen in publishing." Two years ago, Kelly Smith, co-owner of A Woman's Prerogative bookstore in Ferndale, Mich., spent a little over a year working as Grier's assistant, to learn how to be a publisher. She went back home and started Bella Books. "We intentionally decided to downsize as a way to protect our authors, our bookstores, our readers," Grier continued. "With this structure in mind, Kelly's Bella Books signed up our rolling contractual authors who write a book every year. I'm giving her a locked-in-place audience who are expecting novels by all these authors." Grier kept three authors, who will be producing four books a year. Naiad's roster now boasts mystery author Claire McNabe, romance novelist Karin Kallmaker and Linda Hill, who is both a romance novelist and Naiad's Webmistress.
Smith told PW, "Bella Books will release six books this fall, 14 next year, and in two years, we're going to try to be up to 24 releases a year. Last year Naiad released 34 books. This year they released just four, so booksellers are champing at the bit for new books by these authors."
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