OR Books to Work with
Joint Venture of Two Iconoclastic Publishing Houses
The upstart independent book publisher OR Books, LLC, and the pioneering literary/cultural magazine Evergreen Review, Inc., announced today that they are engaging in a joint venture. Using its precedent-setting direct-to-consumer model, OR Books will manage the publishing properties of Evergreen, which include titles by Samuel Beckett, Marguerite Duras, and Kenzaburo Oe.
This move consolidates the legacy of the late, legendary founder of Evergreen (and Grove Press), Barney Rosset, at OR Books, which recently signed a contract with Rosset’s Estate to publish his long-awaited autobiography. OR Books plans to release The Subject Is Left Handed: The Autobiography of Barney Rosset in winter 2016.
OR Books co-publisher John Oakes, whose first job in publishing was at Grove Press as an assistant editor reporting to Rosset in 1987, was also named executive director of Evergreen Review Inc. and publisher of the Evergreen Review by its board.
Founded in 1957, Evergreen‘s mix of high and low culture quickly became indispensable reading to the Beat Generation. At its height, its circulation was close to 200,000, and its writers included an eclectic but always progressive mix of names such as William Burroughs, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Jack Kerouac, Samuel Beckett, Malcolm X, Henry Miller, Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, Jean Genet and Carlos Fuentes. In 1970, barely one year after the Stonewall riots, one of its most famous covers featured a Richard Avedon photograph of Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky embracing—nude.
According to Oakes, Evergreen is now undergoing a revamping and will “re-emerge” within six months. “The Evergreen mix of progressive politics and edgy cultural exploration fits right in with what we’re trying to do at OR,” said Oakes. “Barney was in the business of upsetting traditional models, whether they were political, cultural, or social, and so are we. It’s an honor to be associated with the Rosset line.”
“I can think of no better partner than OR,” said Astrid Myers Rosset, Rosset’s widow and a member of the Evergreen board. “I like to imagine Barney would welcome Evergreen‘s evolution, and of course its resurrection.”
OR Books, founded in 2010 by Oakes and Colin Robinson, both longtime veterans of book publishing, made its mark by being one of the first non-specialty publishers to commit to the direct-to-consumer model. It releases its titles simultaneously as both ebooks and paperbacks and, while it does sell to bookstores on a non-returnable basis, does not sell wholesale to Amazon or other suppliers. Among its authors are Julian Assange, Norman Finkelstein, Eileen Myles, Patrick Cockburn, Yoko Ono, Medea Benjamin, Andrew Ross and Douglas Rushkoff.
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