December 19, 2019
Galley Beggar press turns to the public to recoup unexpected loss . . . human spirit prevails
by Ryan Harrington
Just the other day we wrote about the book that was perhaps the publishing story of 2020—Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann—and the galvanizing effect it was having on our friends at Porter Square Books.
Yesterday, that same weird and wild, single-sentenced, unlikely smash of a book made publishing news again.
The story involves Galley Beggar Press (Ellmann’s publisher) and its partnership with an online and pop-up discount retailer called The Book People. In the wake of Ducks’s landing on the Man Booker Prize shortlist, Galley Beggar printed a special run of 8,000 copies of the book specifically for The Book people. This special printing carried a £40,000 price tag.
Spend money to make money, right?
The trouble is that The Book People has since fallen into administration (British for bankruptcy, essentially) leaving Galley Beggar unable to earn back that 40k in any manageable amount of time. This, my friend, is a huge hit for an indie publisher. Don’t ask us how we know.
As Alison Flood writes for The Guardian,
Galley Beggar was due to be paid after Christmas, according to [co-director Eloise] Millar, who said the money would “have allowed us to pay the many print bills that the Booker has involved … and set us straight for the new year”.
But after talking to the Book People on Wednesday, Galley Beggar was told it would not be paid in the immediate future, with all payments to suppliers understood to be frozen. This has forced the publisher to turn to the public for help or risk shutting down.
And so, Galley Beggar launched a GoFundMe campaign to chip away at the 40k.
But it’s the holidays, and I don’t wish to withhold a heartwarming story of human decency and literary love from our readership. So I’ll spare the suspense and say that in a mere 12 hours Galley Beggar landed north of its £40,000 fundraising goal.
God Bless Us, Everyone! For the best part of the story, check out the publisher’s Thank You note on the fundraising page.
Happy Holidays everybody. Keep taking care of each other.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.