Marginalia/just for fun Reflections

Book Birthdays!

All of the Love of Regular Birthday Parties With No… Well… Fewer Tears

By Abram Himelstien, Editor-in-Chief

Perhaps the oddest part of publishing is the rhythm. So much of the work, and getting to think about the book, happens long before the Street Date. If we are lucky, we get to have a few events where we celebrate the author and the book, but these events move quickly, and we are rarely able to be “in the moment,” but instead usually think about logistics: sound systems, chairs, and enough units at the table for the author to sign. And that’s when we are lucky.

Toasting Lambda Award Finalist- Yang Huang’s My Good Son

During Covid, Street Dates meant almost nothing. We crafted a social media campaign and maybe a few zoom events. Disembodied heads tried to talk about or read from these worlds that were present, alive on these dead trees. It was many things at once: sublime, isolating, more community than not gathering, and also- deflating. 

As we regathered in the office, masked and cautious, we were greeted by these beautiful books, books we had not properly greeted and fêted. And so an idea began in our minds- let us greet each of these books and authors- a toast and cake a moment together to celebrate the author’s work, and all of the love and labor we had poured into these products.1

Toasting Jewher Ilham’s Because I Have To

I woke up yesterday imagining these conversations between the books, the alleged products. I imagined the relief and the goodwill, and the slight tinge of jealousy that I think most of us feel when we celebrate birthdays, and I imagined the other invited books watching one book get celebrated and the feelings that they might feel.


1 GK Darby’s advice, on the first day of publishing class, to students who will chose a winner in the lab class: “We are committing resources to mass producing a product. The Internet has changed the idea of publishing rare ideas. We are killing trees, manufacturing a product with a barcode, marketing language, distributors, booksellers. It starts as art, but ends up on the shelves as a product. That product should enlighten, make people happy, change the world—all things that great art does. But it is at least half product.”

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