It's the best of times and the worst of times for Beau Friedlander, founder and publisher of Context Books, a small, well-regarded New York City publishing house. Two weeks ago, Friedlander, much better known as a publisher, signed with Viking to publish his own first novel. Not long after that happy announcement, PW learned that Context Books has been in voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy since last November.

In documents filed in Bridgeport, Conn., on Nov. 27, 2002, Context Books listed assets of $496,640 and liabilities of $486,153. The largest claim listed is Margaret P. Baldwin, publisher of Chelsea Green Publishing of Vermont ($135,000). Other claims by unsecured creditors listed at the time of the filing included such Context authors as Daniel Quinn ($29,226), Derrick Jensen ($24,729) and Elissa Wald ($13,933).

Friedlander told PW that his creditors were "vendors and authors" and that he was working under bankruptcy protection "and trying to move forward." He acknowledged that the bankruptcy had disrupted the shipping of some Context titles. But he also told PW that now all books were shipping on time and "we are supporting all of our books." He said the house was on the ninth printing of Jensen's A Language Older Than Words, and he also cited strong sales for Scott Ritter's Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America.