December 11th, 2008 / 3:45 pm

What Ever Happened to Contemporary Press?

I loved the raw noir books that Contemporary Press published, for example, the two Danger City anthologies as well as Tony O’Neill’s Digging the Vein (fantastic junkie lit) and Mike Segretto’s The Bride of Trash. But then, they stopped putting out new books! I decided to contact some of the people and find out what was up. Jeffrey Dinsmore informed me that many of their titles are still available and they hope to publish more books in the future. So, according to him, they are only on haitus. I highly recommend buying some of thier books– which you can find out more about here— if you like funny, dark, inappropriate crime books- think an updated Jim Thompson on meth and the occasional speedball or as GQ said, “books for people who like to drink while they read”. Dinsmore said you also can still get many of their titles from Amazon and other large booksellers, too. And Mike Segretto is putting out his own novel, Curse of The Tarantula, and it will be as over the top and entertaining as his other Contemporary Press work. Here’s what Mike Segretto had to say about the short life (that is not quite over necessarily!) of Contemporary Press:

The main reason the company went south was because we were seven creative people…writers, editors, artists, and ad-men…but none of us had a head for business. We never really figured out the best way to promote our books or take advantage of our opportunities, and we were always falling ass-backwards into some sort of bizarre opportunity. Before we even published a single book, a writer from GQ Magazine wrote a piece about us. That lead to getting a major distributor, PGW (Publishers Group West), before the company had even been around for a year. That lead to me getting interest from a producer who wanted to turn my first book, “Dead Dog“, into a movie.

Still, with all these great opportunities, we couldn’t figure out the best way to sell our stuff. Part of the problem was that we desperately needed a business manager but couldn’t afford to pay one. We wasted a lot of time, money, and energy on silly things like throwing huge book-launch parties. We all had a great time and got stinking drunk, but the parties never gave us a rise in sales. I don’t think anyone really took the business side of things very seriously. We used to have our weekly meetings in loud bars around Manhattan and Brooklyn, and those meetings usually involved a few minutes of discussing business. The rest of the night would be spent getting loaded and shouting at each other. But the opportunities kept coming. At one point, we’d nearly run out of cash and a wealthy friend of one of the guys in the company gave us a few thousand dollars to keep ourselves afloat. That helped us to put out a few more books, but it wasn’t enough to keep the business going for more than another nine months or so. Then a couple of the partners moved to Los Angeles, so the focus got even more diffuse.

And then things just ended, although perhaps just for awhile! I wish Segretto and Dinsmore the best of luck and hope to continue to see thier work out there. I felt they were a much needed voice in the indie press world — unpretentious and downright nasty at times. So refreshing! Here’s hoping for a revival.

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  1. Blake Butler

      good post, this was interesting

  2. Blake Butler

      good post, this was interesting

  3. pr

      tthanks blake! I love their books and I’m glad it’s not officially over for them.