Arlington micro press announces release of 50th book

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The late Richard Horn, author of the novel titled Encyclopedia. / courtesy of Richard Schober

Tough Poets Press, founded, owned and operated solely by Richard Schober of Arlington, is about to publish its 50th book since its founding in early 2015: a reissue of Encyclopedia, from 1969, by the late Richard Horn. The Press has already republished many new editions of novels – some by well-known authors, some not – and is a small independent publisher of unconventional and neglected new and rediscovered literary fiction, poetry and non-fiction.

“I’m now running a Kickstarter to help cover the production costs of this new edition,” Schober told YourArlington. Details are here >>

Kickstarter description calls Encyclopedia a “comic literary oddity” which was Horn’s only published novel. The unconventionally structured book garnered strong reviews from major newspapers when it was originally published by Grove Press over half a century ago, but has since fallen into obscurity.

By mid-November, the project had found 149 backers and raised more than $3,000, more than enough to finish publishing the relatively short (168-page) paperback. The crowdfunding effort can accept additional backers until Nov. 25, and is scheduled for release in January 2023, Schober wrote in an email interview.

“There is no limit to the number of Kickstarter backers. Once the book is officially released, it will be available on Amazon, the Barnes & Noble website, Bookshop.org, and many other online sites. All Books that I publish are printed on demand, so theoretically they will never be out of print,” he wrote.

The Kickstarter description says that after a long search for the rights, Schober was finally able to reach the deceased author’s daughter, who granted him permission to republish the book. The project description further states that Horn died in August 1973 at just 30 years old, and the cause of death was never fully investigated.

“I’m a big fan of neglected literature from forgotten novelists, especially from the 1960s and 1970s – the more quirky and experimental the better,” he writes. “I have known this book for a long time, and only recently was able to find the author’s daughter, who is the executor of her estate, to obtain her permission to publish this edition.”

Richard Schober, founder of Tough Poets PressRichard Schober, founder of Tough Poets Press. /courtesy of Richard Schober

Crowdfunding: a successful business model

The Kickstarter page says that of the 49 books Schober has already published, 44 have been crowdfunded.

Schober’s entrepreneurship was described in a November 2019 article in Weekly editors titled “The One-Man Press Resuscitating Forgotten Classics”. Her work has also been favorably mentioned on the literary blogs Inchoatia, Alta and Please Kill Me.

Tough Poets Press on its website shows 10 books published this year alone.

“Between 2015 and 2019, I was releasing between one and five books a year,” Schober said. “At the end of 2019, I was fired from my ‘real’ job as a web designer, then the pandemic hit, so I’ve had plenty of time to work on books since, and now I’m on average about 10 a year. . I already have five books ready to be published next year – and agreements with authors or estates for a few more.”

Schober realized he had the time, interest, experience and skills to create a different and fulfilling part-time career for himself. “I was studying English at university,” he wrote, “so I’ve always loved literature, and I also collect a lot of vintage paperbacks. Which really got me into the publishing industry, that’s my background as a graphic designer. I’ve always wanted to design books and book covers, but it’s a very competitive field. When I realized no one was going to hire to do this kind of work, I decided to create my own publishing house.

The current Kickstarter effort, already successful, could become even more so by Thanksgiving. “Anything that rises above the [already achieved minimum] Starter [dollar] the goal will go to printing and shipping additional copies beyond the minimum of 124, additional royalties to the author’s estate, and profit for me,” he explained.

University, radio, rock ‘n’ roll

The 1975 Arlington High School graduate earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from UMass./Amherst in 1979. His interests later included music: “In the late 1980s and 1990s, I was in a band, and Tough Poets was a name that a friend suggested, even though we didn’t use it.”

The group was based in Somerville, where Schober resided at the time. “My band, The Dislocated Hipsters, only existed for a few years, maybe 1989 to 1992. We played rockabilly and original songs in the style of the 60s. well, I admit it – on the most of them. We only played live twice, but we got good airplay on local and alternative radio stations.”

Since then, his musical involvement consists of having been a volunteer disc jockey at WMFO, the radio station of Tuft University, for a few years until the beginning of this year, with a show on Sunday mornings.

His former band experience ultimately played into his later ambitions. “When it came time to name my publishing house, I said to myself [that the previously suggested moniker] was perfect, especially since the first book I worked on was a collection of interviews with Beat Generation poet Gregory Corso, who spent time in prison as a youth for theft. Now he was definitely a tough poet. There’s also a line in a novel by Haruki Murakami, another writer whose work I appreciate, that says, “Certainly, the world must have tough poets too.”

Publication process, future goals

Most, but not all, of his projects involve re-editions of previously published works.

In the case of the former, “Every word in the original editions is there,” Schober said. “No changes are made except to correct typos that were missed the first time the books were published. Some reissues contain additional material: a new introduction, an interview with the author, etc.”

The covers, however, tend to be brand new. “I designed new covers for most of the books. I only used the original covers, or recreations of the original covers, a few times.”

It also publishes unpublished works by well-known authors – and, very rarely, submissions by emerging writers.

“I probably get 20 or 30 unsolicited manuscripts by email every year, and occasionally one or two will stand out, so I’ll publish them,” he noted. “In addition, I have published collections of older and previously unpublished works – three volumes of short stories by Medford native and National Book Award nominee Alexander Theroux, three volumes of stories and poems by Marvin Cohen, a unpublished novel by Donald Newlove.”

Schober hopes to release the product at an accelerated rate in the future. “I plan to publish books for as long as possible, and one book a month is my goal,” he said. “I hope one day to make publishing my full-time job, but [until then] I do part-time freelance graphic design and web design work to earn a regular salary.”


March 4, 2020: Arlington Press publishes Nobel laureate’s novel

This report was published Thursday, November 17, 2022, based primarily on information from Arlington resident Richard Schober of Tough Poets Press.

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