Monday, May 27, 2013

Salt abandons single-author collections amid poetry market slump

Publisher says these books are 'no longer viable' as sales drop by more than a quarter

'Extremely sad news' ... Carol Ann Duffy. Photograph: Christopher Thomond

As figures show tumbling sales for poetry, authors including poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy are mourning news that one of the UK's most energetic independent publishers can no longer afford to publish individual collections.
After releasing more than 400 poetry collections, many by debut authors, and launching scores of careers, Salt said earlier this week that it will be focusing on poetry anthologies in the future. "We've seen our sales [of single-author collections] decline by over a quarter in the past year, and our sales have halved in the past five years," said director Chris Hamilton-Emery. "It's simply not viable to continue doing them unfunded … We have tried to commit to single-author collections by funding them ourselves, but as they have become increasingly unprofitable, we can't sustain it."
Poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy said the decision was "extremely sad news". She added: "They publish some excellent poets and I hope that other publishers will offer space to the poets who will now find themselves without a publisher." Former poet laureate Andrew Motion said the news of Salt's withdrawal was "a great shame". "I think Chris is a terrific editor, with a great eye for new talent, and the opportunities he's been giving for new poets to have solo collections will be sorely missed," said Motion.
Salt counts amongst its authors the major American poet Charles Bernstein, the award-winning Australian poets John Tranter and John Kinsella, prize-winning British author Luke Kennard, and Eleanor Rees and Sian Hughes – both of whom have been shortlisted for the Forward prize for best first collection.
Official figures from Nielsen BookScan show a sharp decline in the overall poetry market in the last year. There was growth of around 13% in 2009, when the market was worth £8.4m, followed by small declines in 2010 and 2011, and then a major drop of 18.5% volume and 15.9% value in 2012, when the overall value of the market fell to £6.7m.

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