Brooklyn-based indie Melville House is giving its Web site a facelift, and staffing up. The publisher will launch its new site on October 17, replacing the blog-like online presence the company has long had. The press is also adding three new staffers.
The Web redesign is a significant move for the press, since the publisher grew out of the blog MobyLives, that founder Dennis Johnson writes. Johnson said the forthcoming site will highlight new programs from Melville House, such as HybridBook, which combines print books with digital "add-on" material. The new site will also feature writing from all the staffers at the publisher. Speaking to the redesign, Johnson said: "Our site has always been most essentially about content, not only about discussing the stuff of our books, but about telling the uncensored story of American book culture, about discussing something other than bestsellers, about championing international independent publishing, and about having fun."
With the redesign, the indie is also staffing up. Ellie Robins has been named an acquiring editor; she was most recently editor of Hesperus Press in London. Kathleen Massara has been named publicist, and she arrives from Flavorpill, where she was editors of the Flavorwire blog. Paul Oliver has been named marketing manager; he was most recently co-owner of Wolfgang Books in Philadelphia. And Kelly Burdick has been promoted to executive editor.
The redesigned site, Johnson noted, will build on Melville's existing brand as site to go to for industry news, opinions and other information. Speaking to the expansion as a whole, Johnson said the indie has seen successes with its recent underground bestseller Debt by David Graeber, which came out in July, as well as its HybridBook program. Nonetheless, Johnson said, the staff additions had been in the works for some time and he noted that the collapse of Borders hurt business overall . "We saw it coming, but it happened faster than we thought," Johnson said about the demise of Borders.