Posts By: Elly Blue

Business of Publishing: Books we Love and Recommend

One of the best parts of working in publishing is that there is always something new to learn. Where do we learn it? From books, of course.

Here’s a list of some of the books that have been most helpful to Microcosm workers recently, and that we recommend to you, aspiring publisher / editor / writer / designer / production manager / roller-arounder-in-books. We added a couple in that we published, too.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course. We’d love to hear your recommendations!

How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead book coverHow to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore
This book rules. If you want to write or publish books, read this first. Ariel Gore shows you how to write, publish, and promote what matters to you, and how to build a readership from the ground up. If you want to get into writing or publishing is a get-rich-quick scheme, there are other books about that; this one shows you how to do it because you have a vision to make something meaningful. Full of golden advice from someone who’s done it—and is still doing it—successfully.


make a zine book cover by joe biel and bill brentMake a Zine by Joe Biel and Bill Brent
We always recommend that would-be publishers start small—make something yourself that you passionately believe in, learn the trade, and start building a network and a movement before you get mixed up with Amazon, trade distributors or doing any kind of business at scale. This book contains a wealth of information for publishing a zine, comic, or book yourself, with real knowledge about everything from acquisitions to production to marketing.


Wired for Story by Lisa Cron book coverWired for Story by Lisa Cron
One of our authors recommended this book, and we in turn recommend it to you! The sad truth is that it doesn’t matter how good your writing is if you can’t captivate readers’ attention on every page. Lisa Cron shows you the neuroscience of story, and it’s invaluable. This book is great for writers, editors, and anyone doing title development, aka the publisher.


On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Learning how to tell a compelling story is essential for getting anyone to read that story… actually writing it well is still important for other reasons. William Zinsser is one of the best guides as you learn that part of your craft, as a writer or editor.


The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner
This is the best book we’ve found about what it’s *like* to be an editor. Which is almost as important, if not more important, than the nuts and bolts of learning how to edit. Betsy Lerner has worked in a number of different New York publishing houses and shares stories and knowledge and her valuable experience. If you are an editor, work with one, or want to be one, you’ll glean a lot from reading this.


Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
If you plan to have anything to do with visual storytelling—comics, picture books, art books, whatever—this guide (in comics form, of course) is very helpful for understanding how to visually tell a story.


Getting Things Done book coverGetting Things Done by David Allen
People go into publishing because they love books; the reality is that you spend a lot of time with data, spreadsheets, contracts, budgets, production schedules, inventory, software, email, and a gazillion little tasks, each of which is vitally important and intricately relies on many other things being done right. It can all get to be overwhelming, especially if you’re a one-person publishing shop. GTD is the gold standard for organizing your complicated life without succumbing to stress or losing sight of the big picture.


Beyond Dealmaking by Melanie Billings-Yun
Another thing most people learn after launching their publishing career rather than before is that much of the job is about negotiating—contracts, relationships, deliveries, solutions, whatever. There isn’t a lot of abundance in the industry, and people are often in it for very different reasons and with very different expectations. This is hands-down the best book on negotiation that we’ve found, and will teach you real and practical skills for building lasting, sustainable relationships beyond just closing the deal.


Publishing for Profit by Thomas Woll
This book is dense and tough to read. The slog is worth it if you’re serious about publishing as a business, and if you need that business to make money. The best time to read this book is when you have already been doing the work, have some books under your belt, and are starting to wonder if you’re ready for trade distribution and/or to hire a second person.


our band could be your life book coverOur Band Could be Your Life by Michael Azerrad
Wait, what? This is a history of underground and punk music in the 80s and 90s, not a publishing manual! Actually… this is also very much a book about how to launch a scrappy, ragtag business all the way to the moon, be you a drunk and angry drummer touring in a filthy van or a teenager in your bedroom with a big dream and a cassette duplicator. Microcosm is built on similar foundations, guided much more by the DIY music industry than the book publishing world, and this book can profitably be read as a fascinating case study of businesses run—some more successfully than others—entirely without traditional resources like capital or training, but with no shortage of values, creativity, and pure energy and rage.


good trouble book coverGood Trouble by Joe Biel
Microcosm founder and publisher Joe Biel’s memoir can be read through several lenses, and one of them is small press business manual. The company’s often bumpy, sometimes glorious, always edifying history can be found in these pages, along with background on some of the stuff that makes the gears turn—contracts, management, strategy, accounting, proofreading, and more. And if we do say so ourselves, it’s also an excellent example of reader-oriented development, which is what any memoir published today needs beyond all other qualities.


And don’t forget you can read our Business of Publishing blog series right now, without waiting for our store to open or your book to come in the mail.

Indie Bookstore Love: Boneshaker Books in Minneapolis!

boneshaker-signOur indie bookstore crush for the month of April is on Minneapolis’s one-and-only all-volunteer bookstore collective, Boneshaker Books. Walking into Boneshaker is an amazing experience—a friendly person greets you, and you’re surrounded by a selection of books, each one of which was obviously chosen because someone passionately wants you to read it, not because of sales metrics. Even the way the sections are selected is thoughtful and eye-opening. For instance, most bookstores have a separate sections for African American and Native American histories… in Boneshaker, those are both just plain American History, and make up the bulk of that section. Chances are a volunteer worker will make you feel right at home, leaving you alone to browse if that’s what you prefer or engaging in a spirited discussion of the ethics and techniques of writing fiction, if that’s up your alley.

The collective is putting up a Microcosm books display this month to celebrate our shared history and values (pics coming once that happens!), and they also took the time to answer a few questions for us.

1. What is the history of Boneshaker Books?
After longtime Minneapolis radical bookstore Arise! closed in 2010, a group of former volunteers decided that there was still a need for an all-volunteer community bookstore—and, that if done thoughtfully, it could be successful and self-sustaining. Our original crew had an extremely diverse skill set that included a professional fundraiser, a carpenter, an artisanal iron worker, and a web developer, and we leveraged those skills as much as possible.

boneshaker-attitudeAlong with the usual Kickstarter and benefit events, we came up with a unique fundraising plan: every donor of $250 or more could pick a book title that we would stock forever. So not only did we build a strong donor base, but they literally built the foundation (or skeleton) of our collection. We like to say that every book in the store is there because someone—donor or volunteer—loves it.

We intended to open in the old Arise! Bookstore building, but it fell through for a few reasons, mostly due to money. After contacting some neighborhood groups, we found an odd space in the back of a quirky building in the Seward neighborhood, near our friends at the Seward Cafe. It turned out to be a perfectly magical fit. We were also able to share the space with our friends at the Women’s Prison Book Project who distribute books to women and transgender persons in prisons.

After a year of writing business plans, fundraising, building beautiful custom bookshelves, and making dreamy book lists, we opened in January of 2011. Over the last five years, we’ve sold thousands of books, hosted hundreds of events, meetings and book clubs, and thrived with the support of countless volunteers and patrons. It’s been a wild ride, and we look forward to the adventures the next five bring.

2. A boneshaker is a Victorian-era bicycle; we too love the combination of books and bicycles. How did you choose the name and what do bikes + books mean to you?
So one of the ideas that we included in our vision of Boneshaker Books from our earliest collective meetings was to offer a free bike delivery service for special orders. Many of our founding collective members rode their bikes for transportation already, and it just seemed like a natural addition to our store. So as we discussed that intersection of interests, we gravitated towards a bike/book name.

And as we thought more about that combination, we thought about the ideological similarities between riding bikes and reading books. Today, neither of those things is seen as essential to enjoying your life—but anyone who rides a bike or reads a book will tell you how empowering those activities are! How they are essential to so many of us!

Riding a boneshaker bike is also a really jarring experience, which we think describes our inventory pretty well. We carry books that rattle your core, and the name Boneshaker Books fits that perfectly.

boneshaker-staff3. What’s your favorite (or the most popular) Microcosm book in your store? How about any book at all?
So this might be a little biased, but our favorite Microcosm book is Fire and Ice by Joshua Ploeg. In 2012 we were hosting a Valentine’s Day fund raising dinner—and maybe not surprisingly, we don’t have a ton of experience catering gigantic dinners. But it turned out that Joshua was going to be in Minneapolis that night, so we reached out and asked for his help.

And he pulled through in such a huge way! He helped us make the most incredible vegan dinner, with, like, Husker Du themed foods! And then one of his fans showed up, this awesome vegan chef from Minneapolis, and she cooked a ton of delicious food with us, too. It was just this totally overwhelming experience, and it still stands as our most successful fund raiser ever, four years later.

Fire and Ice happens to be our best selling Microcosm title too—which is nice.

4. You’ve been around through some major ups and downs in the book business. Has being a volunteer-run collective helped get you through that or given you a different perspective than a for-profit bookstore might have? What do you hope happens next?
At any given time we have over 40 active volunteers, and sometimes that number goes up to 60. That means every day there are between 40 and 60 people who are contributing ideas, recommending books, organizing events, and making Boneshaker Books a better community book store.

So that’s probably the biggest perspective-shift between Boneshaker and a for-profit bookstore. We have more ideas coming in, we have a more diverse set of stake holders, and—as volunteers—we’re less dictated by making stacks of cash. We need to pay rent every month, but other than that, we don’t have nearly as many expenses as a traditional bookstore—and that lets us take risks with our inventory that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

Our next big hopes are to expand our bicycle delivery service to include a dedicated bike trailer stocked for events, and we’re dipping our feet into online sales. Maybe.

Visit Boneshaker Books every day from 11 to 8 at 2002 23rd Ave S in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota! And thank you for supporting independent bookstores!

Vegan Italian Tattoo: An interview with Mama Tried author/artist Cecilia Granata

photo of cecilia granata drawingFor the longest time, Vegan Italian Tattoo was the working title of Cecilia Granata’s gorgeously illustrated cookbook of Italian classics made vegan. The final name of the book, Mama Tried: Traditional Italian Classics for the Screwed, Crude, Vegan, and Tattooed was a team effort, the rare collaborative title that really works. The end result is a spirited, fun cookbook that teaches you to cook real Italian food, cruelty-free. The book comes out officially in April, and the author took a break from her other work—including painting and tattooing—and answered some questions for the occasion:

1. Mama Tried combines vegan recipes with tattoo flash art. What gave you the idea to combine food and tattoos? What is the creative connection between them for you?
Originally the illustrations weren’t tattoo flash but regular drawings; at some point during the development of this project, I noticed how many carrots and broccoli tattoos I was getting to do at work. Because I was positioning myself as a Vegan Tattoo Artist, more and more people were interested in getting their animal rights piece done by me. I came to realize that these 2 worlds, tattoos and Veganism, are closer that it might seem, and decided to exploit this cute combo.

I think the edgy style of tattoos is able to convey a fresh appeal to the strong message of Veganism.

cecilia granata holding her hands in a heart shape2. Do you have a favorite recipe in the book? What do you most like to cook for special occasions? What do you eat when you’re tired and don’t have a lot of energy to make a fancy meal?
I think my favorite is Risotto giallo, or Risotto alla Milanese, just because it was the special thing that my grandma would make when I visited her; it’s one of the most typical dishes of the area where she lives. Also because I love saffron, which not only makes anything delicious but also fantastic to look at with all those shades of gold.

For special occasions I guess it depends on what’s the occasion and what season it is in…let’s just say that there is gonna be a lot of food: definitely few appetizers, a first and second course, fruits, dessert(s), coffee, and what we call “ammazzacaffe”, or “coffee killer”, which is usually a bitter liqueur or a sweeter one like limoncello.

When I need to eat in less than 5 minutes, I usually make an omelette with chickpeas flour: it’s quick, easy, delicious, nutritionally complete and I can just use whatever I have in the fridge right away, even if it’s just an onion.

cecilia granata mid-tattoo3. Do you have a favorite tattoo or type of tattoo that you do?
I have a pretty eclectic taste in general and tattoos don’t make an exception. I don’t like being stuck on one specific style or subject because I get bored easily and I also get psyched easily. If I had to pick, I guess I can never go wrong with animals, especially furry ones, mermaids or fancy lettering. I also enjoy silly tattoos and anything weird or grotesque. I am definitely not into geometrical or tribal tattoos because I have no patience, which is fundamental for such precise works.

4. What creative project is coming up next for you?
I am working on few different projects in parallel: a children’s book about the Devil, which as you can imagine, will probably never be published. I am also co-writing and drawing a book of Yoga for Kids with a very talented friend. And finally, but not really since I keep embracing new ideas, I am on this lifelong project of feminist tarots with another dear friend.

This has been an interview with Cecilia Granata, author of the vegan cookbook Mama Tried

Rampant Media Consumption! First 2016 edition

My Career as a Jerk movie cover art You all kept us busy the last three months! Normally things quiet way down after the holidays and by the beginning of February we’re left cleaning the office, catching up on administrative projects and long-term editorial stuff, and strategizing about the future. Not this year! We’ve been slammed with orders and with editorial work on exciting new books, and it’s been fabulous. As a result, though, it’s been a while since anyone had a minute to consume any media, much less report on it, much less blog about it.

We finally found a sec, though. So… here’s what we’ve been taking in!

Cyn

I’ve been listening to Halsey and Marian Hill on repeat.

I caught up on the new season of Agent Carter—it’s a little more kitschy than last season, but fun anyway, and still well done.

In my favorite kind of news, Jessica Jones got picked up for a second season! I mean, of course it did, because it’s amazing, but it’s good to know.

I also finished listening to the audio book of Gone Girl. I wasn’t excited to read it because it seemed over-hyped, but I actually ​*loved*​ it, and actually hate that I saw the movie first and ruined the twist, because it probably would have blown me away. Also, I think Amy Elliot Dunne might be my gender-politics spirit animal.

This month I’ve been obsessed with watching 360 degree videos. Guyz, this is the future of technology. Check out this one or this one (it’s better if you’re using a mobile device). (ps. if you don’t know how it works, just click anywhere on the video and drag)

In not-360 obsession, one of my favorite songs got an amazing music video, although for the full effect you should listen to the song first, ​thenwatch the video.

Taylor

Read: Libra by Don Delillo
Listened to: The Serial podcast

Elly

I reread Blake Nelson’s Girl, which I vividly remember finding at the library as a teenager. It totally holds up. Oh the 90s. I read up about the book’s history… it was serialized in Sassy, but first published as an adult novel because all the sex wasn’t deemed appropriate for teenagers. It wasn’t published as young adult until the late 2000s, when I guess the publishing world was ready to admit that teenagers have sex. It was interesting to watch the price fluctuate as well — in 1995 the adult fiction trade paperback was $14, but the YA reissue in 2007 was $11. If it came out today, it would have to be $9.95. And that is the story of how my nostalgic weekend reading turned into a work research project. Not to mention the story of our economy.

Thea

  • Found and liked: http://gatosaurio.com/
  • Watched the new XFiles and Louis C.K.’s “Horace & Pete”
  • It had to happen, a Walking Dead coloring book

    Joe

    My Career as a Jerk​ by Dave Markey​
    While mostly fascinating as a way of tracing the evolving fashion and motivations of the Circle Jerks as they struggle to ​remember their relevance in a changing world, this documentary is my favorite work by Markey (The Year Punk Broke). While most LA bands of the late 70s and early 80s broke up or went “crossover”​ metal​ by 1986, the Circle Jerks tried to stay their course…but never seemed quite sure what that was as they lost key musicians Roger Rogerson and Lucky Lehrer. Mostly memorable for footage of a​ 46​-year-old Greg Hetson dressed in Warped​-​Tour​-style​ ​baggy shorts and pulled up gym socks next to the ever-increasing lengths of Keith Morris’ dreadlocks ​as they ​threaten​ed to touch the floor​ while the band dropped staccato rhythms in favor of a slower hard punk style​. It feels like​ even when​ they can’t quite recall what they were angry about 30 years prior​ that the feelings remain in full force.

    ​Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff
    As frustrating to read as it is informative, this is a look into one reporter’s life in Detroit as he tries to nail the mayor, city councilwoman, and various public service departments. There were numerous times where I wanted to throw the book against the wall in disgust: when he assaults his wife, when he makes fun of retarded people, his various awkward racial stereotypes, extensive stories about his own life that are pointless to the reader or narrative, and how he will tell you everyone’s race (unless they’re white) even when it does nothing to advance the narrative or fill in details about that character. Nonetheless, I powered through for the information. While much of the book seems committed to responding to the various criticisms of his work and leaving out details at times convenient to serving his story, it provides enough back and inside story about Detroit to understand how things reached the point of bankruptcy, destitution, and auto bailouts. I only wish that I could leave LeDuff behind and keep his reporting.

    The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
    While this book cannot hold a candle to Jon’s editorial masterpiece So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, it’s an illuminating look into the world of psychology and how little science really exists within it. In his classic style, Ronson befriends character after character, both those who work deep within the system and those who have been wronged by it. While my experiences with psychology have been mostly pleasant and I’ve had little reason to give it the side eye, looking at its limitations is always educational and informs action. While Ronson has a great way of making even the most serious subjects read as funny anecdotes, it never takes away from the actual substance of his message and what he has to get across to the reader.

  • Now recruiting: Spread the Teenage Rebellion!

    Spread the teenage rebellion!

    A postcard urging you to spread the Teenage Rebellion!
    Did you know that the Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court case was partially based on a student walk-out in Virginia? Or that 30,000 New York high school students went on strike for a week in 1950, marching on city hall each day to demand raises for their teachers? Or that high school students around the US regularly counter-protest (and troll) the Westboro Baptists?

    These are just a few of the stories in Dawson Barrett’s Teenage Rebels, a book of 1-page historical vignettes about teens who rallied around the causes that were important to them, created their own destinies, and changed the world!

    I know what you’re thinking – “I wish I had had a book like that when I was a teen, but now I’m grown.” Well, good news, Microcosm is making it easier to get just such a book into the hands of those who could use it.

    To help spread the rebellion, we’ve created bookplates, so you can easily donate a copy to your favorite teacher, your local library, or a teenage rebel!

    (Or, if you can’t think of anyone specific, we can help).

    To go for it, buy a copy of the book, using your own billing address and the shipping address of the person or organization you want it to go to.

    Just be sure to let us know in the order notes what you want us to write in the “To:” and (donated) “By:” fields in the bookplate.

    Thanks for spreading the rebellion!

    Manspressions, reviewed!

    We ask every intern who passes through our not-so-hallowed halls to choose a book and write a review of it. Adam Lujan, who’s been cheerfully and diligently applying himself to the mysteries of marketing data, climbing the mountain of learning effective product photography, and navigating the vast seas of spreadsheets that make up our publishing empire, chose a book near to our hearts… last year’s Manspressions: Decoding Men’s Behavior. Here’s his review!

    Adam reading ManspressionsJoe Biel and Elly Blue’s Manspressions offers a vital cultural message in a digestible, tongue-in-cheek way. The book – featuring clever and, at times, laugh out loud illustrations by Meggyn Pomerleau – is a dictionary of terms associated with men’s behaviors. Topics range from work to dating to everyday interactions; Manspressions covers it all.

    There’s mansgressions, mansclusion, manstalgia – to name a few. It’s an inventive, accurate assembly of terms meant to highlight and poke fun at the nuances of masculinity evident in everyday life. Its brilliance is in its simplicity. Taking behaviors and interactions many of us have faced – either performing or witnessing them – and exposing it in such a relatable fashion makes Manspressions successful and important.

    There’s something for everyone in this book. It can be a wake-up call for some – beware of frightening moments of “do I do that?” – or a solidarity battle-cry for others. Because masculinity is hegemonic, so widespread, seeping into every crack of society, it’s hard not to relate to or recognize at least some of the manspressions laid bare in this book.

    While Manspressions seeks to highlight these behaviors, to examine the eccentricities of masculinity, it’s all with good humor. And that’s what makes it so digestible – not to mention it’s a quick read and pocket-friendly. Biel and Blue understand the importance humor and self-awareness play in the long game of leveling out the gender playing field. And they also understand no one is perfect, no one is immune to performing these manspressions. As they so poignantly note, we’re all sometimes guilty of these displays of overt, toxic masculinity. And indeed it is quite toxic.

    Isn’t it troubling that half of the human race is imprisoned by a set of social rules and standards that reduce them to nothing more than emotionless, power-hungry, phallic-obsessed walking manspressions? What sort of world does that create? What sort of people does that create?

    Masculinity is the law of the land, it’s what pillars every major society on Earth – a patriarchy that roots itself deep in the world’s history. And that’s a beast of a system to dismantle or even examine. Recognizing it, laughing at it, and talking about it are all important first steps.

    Often, individuals feel powerless to make a difference. How could I, as just one person, change the world? Especially now – with a baffling presidential candidate discussing his penis size at a national debate and a record company and justice system supporting a rapist over his victim – the immensity of the task can be overwhelming and bleak. And it may seem small, it may seem inconsequential or simple, but the answer is merely to change your world, to make those changes in your life.

    Manspressions offers just that. It gives the terms, it gives the laughs, it opens up the conversation in a relatable way. It recognizes that we’re all products of the patriarchy and sometimes that seeps into how we behave. But there’s always hope, there’s always the possibility of change. And that is, as Biel and Blue put it, “priceless.”

    Unearthing the East Bay’s Hidden Rock History: An interview with Cory M. Linstrum

    cory m lindstrum photo by dale stewartWe’re stoked to announce the official publication of
    the second volume in our Scene History series, Cory M. Linstrum’s The Rock & Roll of San Francisco’s East Bay, 1950-1980. Before the Lookout Records revolution put the Bay Area on the map for current generations, the East Bay was home to a thriving, influential, and diverse rock and punk scene. This little zine packs a whole lot of fascinating history for anyone curious about the roots of the music they’ve always loved, or about SF area history generally. It comes out March 15th, and Cory answered some questions for us over email.

    1. Why did you write the Rock & Roll of SF’s East Bay scene history?

    It was originally inspired by Joel Selvin’s book, San Francisco: The Musical History Tour. For anyone that hasn’t seen this, it’s like a tourist guidebook of locations specific to Bay Area rock ‘n’ roll: i.e. the sites of now-shuttered infamous nightclubs, historically significant recording studios, sites of a drug busts involving famous musicians, etc. Despite Selvin’s target audience being baby-boomers, it goes much deeper than your average Dead/Airplane/Quicksilver trivia. It’s not only San Francisco locations, either. It includes spots here in the East Bay: the house Metallica lived in before becoming world-famous, CCR’s “Cosmo’s Factory” rehearsal space, the vacant lot (now baseball field) that had a house Jimi Hendrix once lived in as a boy.

    It’s a fun book that I always thought would be rad if someone did an all-punk rock version of, in a sloppy fanzine format. I considered it myself, but, instead of the subject of significant locations, I settled on writing about my favorite local bands of multiple genres, operating in multiple decades, and the local record labels that released their music.

    cory m linstrum photo by forest loveThe Rock & Roll of SF’s East Bay was actually written in entirety before I learned of Microcosm’s scene history series. It began as a series of essays, one for each decade: 50s/60s/70s, that I intended to self-publish one segment at a time, in issues of the fanzine I edit, Savage Damage Digest. However, I ran out of space before I could even fit in the first installment. Then I got hip to Microcosm’s open call for submissions, which was exactly what I needed!

    2. What’s the most amazing/compelling/strange thing you learned while researching and writing it? What’s your favorite band or album from that era?

    One of the coolest things was learning the street addresses and approximate locations of some of these extinct recording studios and nightclubs. In hadn’t realized their proximity and closeness to places I casually pass by in my everyday routine. It’s pretty neat going down Alcatraz Avenue, along the Berkeley/Oakland border, knowing that such and such record was recorded in a specific building. Or passing through the intersection of Milvia Street and San Pablo Avenue, visualizing that our Good Vibrations location was once the original Longbranch Saloon! Of course this is expected in places like Los Angeles or New York City, cities known as entertainment hubs, but it’s pretty cool for little ol’ Berkeley.

    Since the advance and mail order copies of my Rock & Roll of SF’s East Bay have been circulating I’ve had some pleasant surprises: an invitation extended to me by a well-respected music historian and producer, to come by and peruse his archives and hear unreleased material by some of the bands I’ve written about. I was also thrilled to learn various members of the Jars, a Berkeley new-wave/punk group written about in the chapter on the 70s, had each been given copies to read—and enjoyed it. The band’s original vocalist, J.D. Buhl (who isn’t actually on either of the Jars records), contacted me. He made me aware of an entire alternate pre-history of this band. Now I’m privy to information I found nothing on during my research. It was a great surprise. We’ve since sat down together for an interview and I’ve heard the bands earliest, unreleased demos—which sound like an amazing merger of the Archies and the New York Dolls!

    Besides these punky-poppy, practically unheard, early Jars recordings, I’d have to say my favorite Berkeley punk record is “Back To Bataan”, the 1979 single by the Maids. It’s probably the gnarliest sounding record to come out of the East Bay’s original punk wave of the late seventies. Anyone listening to the Killed By Death bootleg record series knows this one. Curiously, as the Maids only made two live appearances during its brief lifetime, most of the local musicians active on this late-seventies circuit don’t remember them.

    3. Tell us more about you! What do you write / do / play / think about most?

    It’s always been about music, music, music. I listen to it non-stop, write about it, play it live, talk about it and dream about it—always have. I was the kid in 7th grade with a Hit Parader, Creem or Circus Magazine behind his history book. The first underground fanzine I discovered, back in ’83-’84, was Metal Rendezvous. Soon after that I discovered punk rock and a whole new world of fanzines opened up for me. I did various fanzines of my own in high school, then none for many years—I just read ‘em and took mental notes.

    I started writing and publishing again in 2010 with Savage Damage Digest. Its release schedule is inconsistent. With my “whenever-I-feel-like-it” attitude, I’m only four issues deep. Still, I keep busy. I just came off a ripping project that I’m really proud of: The Subtractions, a band from California’s Central Valley that existed ‘79/’80. I tracked them down and began interviewing its members for a story with Savage Damage Digest. In the process I discovered a set of tapes the band had recorded in 1980. I got ahold of them, listened to them, was blown away, restored them, transferred them, found a record deal and had an overall great time curating them for release with HoZac Records’ Archival Series (needless to say the band was thrilled and has since done a successful reunion show).

    Of course I’m also an avid reader and fan of film, as well as into skateboarding and electric guitars. My wife and I love to travel. We never hesitate to drag our kids onto an airplane or load them into the back seat of our car. I’ve also done bands off and on for the last 25 or so years. I’m currently doing one, but wouldn’t hesitate to bail out when the dive bars and personality clashes become an agonizing grind (call me non-dedicated).

    cory m linstrum photo by miles yost4. What’s your next project that you’re most excited about?

    At the moment I’ve got a story coming out in Ugly Things #41. It’s a short piece on 6IX, a mostly unknown band that released one Sly Stone-produced single in 1970. Following that is an interview with Boston punk band Unnatural Axe for the next issue of Human Being Lawnmower. I’m hoping to see both of these on the printed page very, very soon. Currently I’m wrapping an interview with (the previously mentioned) J.D. Buhl. He’s done a handful of cool releases, but his 1981 single, “Do Ya Blame Me,” is an awesome side of local poppy-new wave-punk. Sitting down and interviewing him was great fun and he opened a lot of doors for me regarding various local bands I’d only heard of, as they’d never released anything. This gave me some great reference points on these groups. My long term goal is to keep interviewing local musicians and writing about Bay Area punk rock.

    Check out our Scene History series zines + call for submissions here, and Cory’s new zine here!

    Indie Bookstore Love: Ebenezer Books in Johnson, Vermont

    inside ebenezer books in vermont ebenezer books storefront a wood cut sign with a dog's head and the text ebenezer books the Nonfiction shelf at ebenezer books a longer shot of the zine display with a copy of the quran

    display case of zines
    We’re celebrating our 20 years of independence by highlighting a different indie bookstore that we love every month for a year! This month, we’re featuring the wonderful Ebenezer Books at 2 Lower Main Street in tiny Johnson, Vermont. They first caught our eye because of their prolific and eclectic zine orders.

    We asked Ebenezer’s owner, JJ Indeliclae, a bunch of questions and she sent a bunch of photos, including one of the rack right inside their front door that features a ton of the zines we distribute and publish, as well as the American Quran, which she says she added to her front display in solidarity after someone freaked out about it being on display in another Vermont store.

    1. What’s the story of Ebenezer’s? I also have to ask about the store’s name… did it come from a grizzled old New England settler, or is it about a ghost of Christmas?
    Neither, actually: I named Ebenezer Books after my dog, Ezer. “Ebenezer” is most commonly translated from Hebrew as “place of refuge,” or, more literally, “stone of help.” For me, bookstores have always been both. My Ezer deserves some of the credit for landing me here in rural northern Vermont. (He is a bit grizzled now, almost fourteen… and there is an Ebenezer Road nearby, so there may well have been an old New England settler by that name. The Dickens reference is pretty slant.)

    I bought the store in 2008, just weeks before the recession hit. Ebenezer Books is a true brick-and-mortar, inhabiting a 100-year-old bank building. The founding bookseller on this site, Stacey Burke, restored the original tin ceilings and created a beautiful space for books (in 1998).

    2. You sell some of the books we publish, and you also buy zines that we distribute! At this exact moment, what is your favorite Microcosm book, your favorite non-Microcosm book, and the zine that stuck in your head the most in the last year?
    Yes! We are thrilled to carry Microcosm zines and books. It’s an almost-daily pleasure to watch people discover zines; I’m continually surprised how many of our customers are discovering them here for the first time. (“Excuse me… what are these little books?”)

    It’s tough to pick a favorite Microcosm book! Hot Pants, maybe. Or J. Gerlach’s Simple History series. I’m a longtime fan of Ayun Halliday, so I enjoy recommending her Zinester’s Guide to NYC. My current favorite non-Microcosm book is forthcoming in May: Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene. The zine that stuck in my head the most from the past year? There are so many contenders that I’m going to pick the title that first struck me from another store’s zine rack: We’ll Never Have Paris. I’m partial to literary collections.

    3. Your bookstore is small but mighty—how would you describe your customers? What keeps you going?
    Johnson is a small town, but it is the home of the Vermont Studio Center, the country’s largest residency program for writers and visual artists. They draw people active in the literary community from all over, so many of our customers come from far afield. Consequently we are able to maintain a rich and deep selection of books, especially in poetry and literary fiction. We serve our neighboring towns and are pleased to have customers in an increasing radius from Johnson. Some of our seasonal traffic comes from neighboring ski resorts, and many people also come through town on road trips to view fall foliage. Bookselling is definitely a labor of love. Our best customers share our veneration for the physical book, and their loyalty is a force.

    4. What do you glimpse in your crystal ball for the future of books?
    I have to believe that there are enough people who care about cultural literacy to continue to buy books, and to buy them from independent channels. I’m encouraged by the resurgence of independent bookstores very recently, though this national trend has yet to buoy us much, as bookstores in particular depend on a political awareness that is still evolving. Book industry upheavals are not yet played out. My hope is that more and more small independent bookstores will thrive, and in turn support small publishers such as yours: especially the ones that care about literary and production quality.

    This has been an interview with JJ Indeliclae, owner of Ebenezer Books in Johnson, VT! Be sure to pay them a visit when you’re next up that way, and support your local indie bookstores in the meantime!