“I have always worked around books,” says Daniel Butler, who has been a bookseller in a succession of independents since he turned 16 and took a part-time job at Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah, Calif. During college he worked at Back Pages Books in Waltham, Mass., and since graduation he has become a frontline bookseller for Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass. Now Butler is planning to take what he’s learned from bookselling and apply it to publishing with the founding of Balladier Press (www.balladier.wordpress.com).
“My favorite thing in a bookstore is recommending books, especially kids books,” says Butler. “I want to do the same thing with publishing.” Last week he began handselling Balladier’s first title, the literary calendar Storyteller 2012, which will begin shipping in June. He is calling and e-mailing other independent booksellers and encouraging them to order the calendar direct. Butler's first two sales were to Booksmith and Wellfleet Marketplace in Wellfleet, Mass., both owned by Marshall Smith. But he has also placed calendars at 30 additional independents around the country.
The calendar, which is printed by Recycled Paper Printing in Boston on partially-recycled paper with soy-based inks, using wind energy credits, contains interviews that Butler conducted with a dozen writers. Each month a different writer—from Wicked author Gregory McGuire to former poet laureate Robert Pinsky and detective fiction writer Sara Paretsky— discusses his or her favorite books and bookstores and their storytelling philosophy.
Although Butler would like to make the calendar a Balladier staple, he is also looking to publish books for adults and children by re-issuing out-of-print books and signing new ones with strong storytelling sensibilities. To help put the publishing venture together, Butler’s gotten advice from former bookseller Gavin Grant, cofounder of Small Beer Press. “I’m going to start small,” says Butler. That means the calendar in 2011 and a rediscovered children’s picture book in 2012—and keeping his day job at Booksmith.