Welcome to Good Books, Well Made

We believe that there is no reason a small press can’t publish books that compete on the shelf with the best that the big houses have to offer.

Welcome to Good Books, Well Made
James J. Patterson, Co-Founder, ASP.


I suppose the last straw for me was when Eric Foner’s masterpiece, Tom Paine, and Revolutionary America, fell apart in my hands mid-way through reading it.

I say last straw because — and every voracious reader has suffered this — books have been falling apart on me for decades. I’ll confess, I’m a bit rough on my books. I break the spines, I scribble in the margins, I fold down corners, and I use a hard bookmark for making perfect underlines. I take books into the bathtub, I carry them in the rain, I sit for hours with them in pubs and bars, on public transportation, and yes, in the loo.

But Foner’s book was out of print, so buying more copies of the same crappy edition made no sense. I got through it with rubber bands and paper clips holding it together when not in use and read it like an unbound manuscript until I was finished.

So it came to pass that one fine day I found myself on a team founding a press and I determined to make damn sure these books would be keepsakes, able to survive many readings and a lot of wear and tear. There would be no yellowing and disintegration after a measly decade. (I recently pulled The Journal of Eugene Delacroix off my shelf of unread books, and since I always scribble the city or town I was in and the month and year I purchased it on the publication page, I was stunned to see I had bought the book in England eleven years before! It was like new. Thank you, Phaidon!) It is our belief at ASP that you should be able to lend a good book to a friend, who could lend it to another friend, and, should it ever be returned, you should bloody well be able to read it yet again.

As a consequence, when we published Mark Pritchard’s brilliant fantasy, Billy Christmas, James Clark, a former Sunday Times reporter wrote, “This is a book destined to be battered, much thumbed, read again and again until its pages come loose. It will graduate into the packing crate going off to college, then to the shelves at home.” This was music to our ears and, Mr. Clark, I can assure you, those pages aren’t coming loose!

And another thing. A book shouldn’t be ugly. I want a book I’m proud to put on the table. The highest compliment a stranger can pay me is to stop me and say, “That looks interesting, what are you reading?” That most certainly would NOT be a flimsy newsprint mass market thing with a photo-shopped bird cage on the cover.


Oh, and while I’m at it, whatever happened to editing and copy-editing? I’m looking at you Large Press America.

Sure editors, good editors, cost a little more, but pushing that expense onto the starving writer is a cruel and unusual punishment to both reader and writer. I’ve known more than a few writers who found a mistake on the first page of their newly published book. Imagine the crushing disappointment after so much work and sacrifice. Just writing about it is getting me hot around the collar!

So, when my wife and I (the lovely and talented Rose Solari, a dream of an editor, whose credits include working with Al Gore, Mary Catherine Bateson, Robert Bly, and Margot Adler, to name a few) decided we’d like to give this old-school publishing thing a whirl, we decided that if it meant publishing fewer books a year to get them as close to perfect as humanly possible, then so be it. The author deserves it and so does the reader. And getting it right is just so gratifying.

We believe that there is no reason a small press can’t publish books that compete on the shelf with the best that the big houses have to offer.

So pick up one of our books, enjoy a great read, and experience the pleasure of holding a well-made book in your hands again. And please lend it to a friend or a soul in need. You’ll want to make sure they give it back!