Michael Reynolds is the Editor in chief of independent publisher, Europa Editions. He is the recipient of the 2016 Golden Colophon Award for Superlative Achievement & Leadership in Independent Literary Publishing, awarded by the Community of Literary and Magazine Presses, and a 2017 Epiphany Magazine Honoree for Publishing Excellence. He has served on the jury for the PEN/Heim Translation Fund, the Gutekunst Prize for Young Translators, and the foreign jury of the Strega Prize. He is a regular speaker at the Columbia School of Journalism’s Columbia Publishing Course, and at publishing and translation conferences in America and internationally. He is a member of the Rutgers University Press Advisory Council, a founding member of the Independent Publisher Caucus Steering Committee, and the founder of Bookselling Without Borders, a scholarship program that diversifies the culture of reading by building bridges between the American bookselling community and the international book industry.
Prize-winning and bestselling authors Reynolds has worked with at Europa include Alina Bronsky, Amelie Nothomb, Elena Ferrante, Chantel Acevedo, Domenico Starnone, Charlotte Wood, Julie Lekstrom Himes, Hiromi Kawakami, Nick Arvin, and Alexander Maksik. He is also an author and a translator whose published translations include three historical mysteries by Carlo Lucarelli, and Viola Di Grado’s prize-winning novel, 70% Acrylic 30% Wool.
Reynolds was born in Australia and now lives in New York.
Additional information submitted by Rüdiger Wischenbart:
“Europa Editions has launched a non-fiction imprint, Europa Compass, with the first book coming from French author Antoine Compagnon in May.
Europa Editions described the new imprint as featuring “sophisticated yet accessible” titles on travel and contemporary culture, on popular science, history, philosophy, and politics. “Europa Compass will publish books that are informative, entertaining and diverse, and which will introduce Anglophone readers to new voices and points of view from all four corners of the map,” a spokesperson for the independent publisher said.”
Europa Editions is a small, independently owned book publisher of upmarket fiction, literary nonfiction, and high-end mysteries. In relative commercial terms, publishers like Europa inhabit a small corner of the market, but in cultural terms we remain highly relevant not only to the culture of reading but also in the broader cultural, social, and political landscape.
Being at once culturally in the thick of things and commercially on the margins of the entertainment economy sometimes leads to a confused, almost schizophrenic sense of a publisher’s overall goals; it can create internal tension between the demands of growing a successful business and the imperatives of a perceived or real cultural mandate; and it leads to a skills gap in publishing professionals, whose refined literary tastes may be inversely proportional to their acumen as business owners.
An example of this tension as it is felt at houses like Europa is in the area of production and volume. That is, how many titles to publish! On the one hand, nobody has yet been able to change the equation by which more titles equals a healthier cash flow. To keep small businesses such as Europa’s thriving, to occupy adequate space in a saturated market, to keep our retail and distribution partners and our suppliers responsive to our needs, we evidently need to publish more titles each year. On the other hand, precisely because the market is saturated, because our industry is contributing to a glut of content and a culture of distraction, overstimulation, and intellectual aphasia, one might argue that we have a cultural imperative—indeed, almost a moral one—to publish fewer books and to publish them better.
The dual nature of literary publishers with its conflicting demands also influences, in my opinion, how we ought to think about change and conservation in our industry. Or, in more precise terms: what should change, and what remain.
That our business models need to change in profound ways and shake off the dust from a previous era seems, to me, irrefutable. On the other hand, the requirement to change how we run our businesses, the strategies we employ to reach our business goals, and our commercial agreements, should not put our core activity in doubt. We tend to feel that because business models are in crisis our cultural mandate is too. I think that we have to keep the need for change in one area and the need to conserve in the another separate. We require radical curation as purveyors of literature and the written word, and radical reform as business owners and executives. The former implies doing more of what we have always done—facilitating as publishers a dynamic conversation with the market, developing and defending an editorial personality, nurturing long-term multivalent relationships with authors—while the latter implies doing away with the shibboleths associated with the business of publishing.
No publisher I know of has successfully and fully achieved both of these, but many are trying, and among them is Europa, which mixes traditional approaches to its core business, its relationships with authors, and its use of personality and an aesthetically and politically coherent editorial vision as a discovery mechanism in a market that considers such an approach obsolete, and radical innovation in its unusual transnational structure, its alliances, and its new ways of using old ideas.
The Europa experiment is in its infancy, so it is too early to say what its ultimate impact and level of success will be. But I do think that, upon examination, it offers some signposts for a possible future direction for literary publishers in its combination of radical curation and radical reform.