07 January 2011

Imprint Friday: Get to Know Algonquin Books

For an number of years now, one of my favorite imprints has been Algonquin Books. From the days when it was a small independent publisher to its current status as an imprint of Workman, Algonquin has consistently published quality books.

Some of the imprint's recent titles that I'm sure you've heard about or read are A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein, Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow, and A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. And, of course, you're familiar with Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I think you'll agree that Algonquin lives up to its tagline: "Books for a Well-Read Life."

Besides helping you get know more about Algonquin's publications, I would like to introduce you to Executive Editor Chuck Adams. He's had an exciting and varied career in the world of publishing, most of which I learned about a couple of years ago when he was interviewed by Jofie Ferrari-Adler for Poets & Writers.

I'm so pleased to be able to take a step back, and let Chuck do the introductions himself:

Dear Readers—

Thank you for checking out Algonquin Books, a publishing house I migrated to some seven years ago, but which has been an imprint known for quality and outstanding books for more than twenty-five years.

From absorbing the history, I know that Algonquin was begun with great enthusiasm, meant to be a home for deserving writers who otherwise might get overlooked by the big guys. What no one had reckoned was that writers like Jill McCorkle and Kaye Gibbons and Larry Brown would be among those writers who founding editors Louis Rubin and Shannon Ravenel brought to the house. So much for small time.

By the time I moved to Algonquin in 2004, the house was firmly established as a purveyor of quality literature, mixing both fiction and narrative non-fiction, and by keeping the list small and tightly controlled, known also for maximizing the potential in every book. Having spent my career prior to Algonquin working at very large houses and primarily with very commercial writers, I knew I’d have to adjust. In the end, though, there was no problem: the management of the company is dedicated to doing what is best for the author and the book, and the staff works with a level of dedication and enthusiasm that is all too rare—in any business. I was at home from the first day.

I sincerely don’t think that Water for Elephants ever would have been the success it has become had it been published by just about any other house—it is a true “Algonquin book,” and I’m thrilled that I was the editor who got to work on it. And if, as the saying goes, “success breeds success,” then witness the success of such recent titles as Robert Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife, Amy Stewart’s Wicked Plants, Hillary Jordan’s Mudbound, Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, Robert Morgan’s Boone, Heidi Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, and Ariel Sabar’s My Father’s Paradise—this latter book a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

As for the future, I think it looks pretty bright. There are great books coming up this year, all of which I hope you’ll read, novels like Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrow (May), Jonathan Evison’s West of Here (February), Jon Michaud’s When Tito Loved Clara (March), Manuel Munoz’s What You See in the Dark (March), and Michael Parker’s The Watery Part of the World (April). And on the non-fiction side, two of our most outstanding and bestselling authors are back: Amy Stewart with Wicked Bugs (May), and Richard Louv with The Nature Principle (May).

So enjoy your time with Algonquin Books. We think it’s an amazing imprint featuring wonderful authors with great stories to tell. Read away; we believe you’ll agree.


Chuck Adams
Executive Editor

Thank you so much, Chuck, for taking the time to write to us. I have to laugh that we picked some of the same backlist titles to highlight, but a winner is a winner, and we apparently agree on those.

Algonquin Books have had a place on my bookshelves for years, and I hope most of you will make some room not only for the already published books we mentioned here but also for the fabulous titles being published in 2011. The quality of Algonquin's books is evident all the way from acquisitions to the editing to the stunning covers.

Over the next four weeks I'll be featuring one Algonquin title every Friday. After that, I'll be mixing things up a bit, but I have plenty more exciting titles from this imprint to share with you in the coming months.

Be sure to take the time to visit the Algonquin Books Blog, where you'll find posts on all kinds of issues from the recent Hick Finn brouhaha to some cool photos from the Water for Elephants movie. Oh and follow Algonquin on Twitter and/or Facebook for more good book talk.


bermudaonion 1/7/11, 7:35 AM  

I love Algonquin Books too. I wonder if I could get a tour if I went up to Chapel Hill.

Literate Housewife 1/7/11, 8:11 AM  

Algonquin Books will always have a place in my heart. They always have such excellent titles. I never have to worry when I pick up one of their books. Thanks for highlighting them.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 1/7/11, 8:31 AM  

Algonquin has great titles. Looking forward to seeing what gets spotlighted. I love Mudbound. It is one of my favorite books.

BookGeek 1/7/11, 9:48 AM  

I always thought they were a great imprint and I am so happy that you are featuring them on Fridays. They have such amazing, thought-provoking titles. Excuse me while I pop on over to their blog. :)

Anonymous,  1/7/11, 10:14 AM  

I love Algonquin Books. So many great titles. I have to head over to their blog. I want to hear their take on the whole Huck Finn affair.

Zibilee 1/7/11, 10:26 AM  

I have read a few Algonquin books and have another few on my shelves. I love their books. I am glad to see your spotlight on them today, and realize I am going to have to check out more of their offerings! Thanks!

Lynne Perednia 1/7/11, 10:34 AM  

What a wonderful choice! Algonquin Books is one of the best small presses around. I'm so looking forward to upcoming releases such as WEST OF HERE and WHEN TITO LOVED CLARA.

Sustenance Scout 1/7/11, 10:47 AM  

Algonuin is adored not only by its readers but by its authors. Prolific author Caroline Leavitt (PICTURES OF YOU is her latest) raves about Algonquin magic on FB and Twitter. Chuck Adams reveals in his letter and his PW interview that he cares deeply about the books Algonquin publishes...and the people who write them. K.

Nise' 1/7/11, 11:45 AM  

Many of my favorite reads are Algonquin books! Looking forward to discovering more.

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/7/11, 12:45 PM  

Algonquin in the best! I got to meet Chuck at BEA and his enthusiasm is so contagious. I always know that when I pick up an Algonquin book, I'm in for a fascinating read.

Julie P. 1/7/11, 12:48 PM  

Algonquin is a terrific publisher! Great feature.

Sandy Nawrot 1/7/11, 1:04 PM  

They have some great books under their name, and I'm seriously impressed. I love that you highlight these smaller imprints, because I really want them to succeed and would buy a book knowing it was supporting them.

Meghan 1/7/11, 2:36 PM  

So far all the Algonquin titles I've read have been great - as you know I've been reading A Reliable Wife and I really like it! Looking forward to their 2011 releases.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 1/7/11, 9:58 PM  

When I see the Algonquin "A" on the spine of a book, I know it's a winner!

So nice to get to know Chuck through his letter here today; many thanks!

Rebecca Rasmussen 1/8/11, 2:35 PM  

As an author let me tell you I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be on Algonquin -- what a beautiful, thoughtful, intelligent group of people and books! Loved reading Chuck's letter.

nat @book, line, and sinker 1/9/11, 4:15 PM  

i'm also a fan of this imprint--another blogger recommended 'mudbound' to me and i was sold. i'll be looking forward to your friday posts. :)

Jenners 1/10/11, 8:21 PM  

Of course I read "Water For Elephants" but "Mudbound" has been on my radar for awhile now too.

The Bumbles 1/12/11, 8:36 PM  

I truly appreciate you introducing me to the imprints you highlight. I am trying to pay more attention to these publishers whenever I find a really Good Read. Did the house get lucky or do they turn up gem after gem? Another great way to find good recommendations.

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