The model that we're using for the cooperative space involves breaking the space-rent and general expenses (including some equivalent for the volunteer staffing) down into shares corresponding to shelf-feet, making it possible to bring a small catalog into the store for as little as $5/month [$1.50 - $3.00/shelf-foot, depending on labor volunteered for store staffing.] Expenses are covered up front, so sales go to individual vendors directly, with no consignment fees. I started Corvus Editions to provide low-cost, high-quality materials for bookstores and infoshops with very little money to spend on new stock. I established a constant flow of new releases, from a fairly broad range of traditions, so that tiny, cash-poor operations could always have something new if they could afford even a few dollars to invest on inventory. As it happens, I think identified the right problems, but too late... both because cash-flow concerns, and rising postage costs, have curtailed almost all non-consignment acquisition by many of the shops I was thinking of, but also because distribution channels have collapsed or centralized to such a degree that it's simply a lot harder to reach the right shops. And, of course, for a variety of reasons, "the good old stuff" from the radical traditions doesn't have the street cred it once did. You can bring a hundred different titles to an anarchist bookfair, but you won't necessarily find many browsers.
Live and learn. It turns out that a 19th-century socialist-feminist encyclopedia entry, that's hard to give away (despite its merits) as a $2 pamphlet, is cute and interesting as a tiny $5 book. Recycled paper is good, and farm-waste paper is better, but books bound in recycled Pendaflex folders and upholstery scraps are good enough to take home. If you're going to bother to be a publisher of real books, here at the far edge of the Gutenberg Galaxy, it doesn't hurt to make a statement. Everybody knows you can't judge a book by its cover, but we mostly do it that way anyway.
So a big part of January's labor will be translating the various "libraries" in the Corvus Catalog, and the unpublished catalogs in my various digital archives, into something that will look like a library when placed on the shelf. For the Portland bookfair I brought out some prototype bindings for the New Proudhon Library, and I've got text formatted for a number of uniform hardcover volumes:
- What is Property? - First Memoir
- A Letter to M. Blanqui - Second Memoir
- System of Economical Contradictions, Vol. 1
- Philosophy of Progress
- General Idea of the Revolution
- Gratuity of Credit
- Galileo: A Drama, with commentary
- Langlois's P.-J. Proudhon: His Life and Works
That's where I could use a little help:
The early translations were partial, and often paraphrases rather than real translations, scattered in various odd places. I have, from the period before Benjamin R. Tucker began his work:
- William B. Greene's translations, from Mutual Banking (and later translations published in The Word)
- William Henry Channing's translation of "The Coming Era of Mutualism"
- the partial/paraphrased translation of "Confessions of a Revolutionist" from the London Weekly Tribune, reprinted in The Spirit of the Age
- Charles A. Dana's articles from The Spirit of the Age, reprinted by Tucker in Proudhon and his Bank of the People
- the "Hymn to Satan," from the Ladies Repository
- the excerpts translated in William Lucas Sargant's Social Innovators and their Schemes (1858)
But I'm sure there are more bits and pieces out there, so if anyone knows of things I'm missing, please let me know.