Publisher's Blog

Tatra Press will launch a new imprint of original e-books focusing on long-form journalism, narrative non-fiction and literary fiction called Tatra Press ShortTake Original in November 2014. The imprint will publish titles in e-book format only and of about 30 to 120 pages in length.  The following four pieces will kick off the imprint:

The Journal, by essayist and journalist Josh Karlen, delves into the author’s parents’ personal journals and uses them to piece together the evolution of their marriage, its break-up and the lives they lived and the many they touched. Karlen is the author of Lost Lustre: An New York Memoir published by Tatra Press. In Kremlin Speak: Inside Putin’s Propaganda Factory, Lukas I. Alpert casts light on Russia’s aggressive propaganda war playing out through its  news organizations. Alpert is a correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, previously covering politics in Moscow and currently in the New York bureau.  Novelist John Lansing’s The Test, is a coming-of age story based in 1950s Long Island, about a young couple’s relationship that inflames racial tensions of a community.  Lansing is the author of The Devil’s Necktie and forthcoming Blonde Cargo (October 2014), both published by Simon & Schuster.  Andrew Sulavik’s The Beginnings of Angels debunks myths surrounding the origins of angels and provides a rich amount of research exploring ancient roots of our contemporary fascination with angelic beings.  Sulavik, a former Catholic priest, is a medieval scholar.

Margaret Lowrie Robertson’s Season of Betrayal (Tatra Press, 2006) is scheduled to be offered as an Amazon Kindle Daily Deal on September 23.   The novel, based in Beirut in 1982, earned a starred review in Library Journal, and was praised by Anderson Cooper as a “captivating journey into war-torn Beirut and the equally dangerous front lines of human relationships.”

With renewed interest in man’s primal antecedents, Rain Forest Wisdom offers a wealth of examples of the gorilla’s behavior and what that tells us about being human–from low-fat, high protein diet, to caring for the young to group dynamics and even leadership.

Enter to win a free copy in our GoodReads Giveaway.

How to people find out about books? This is one question that has always kept publishers up at night. With so many platforms available to promote new and mid-list titles, it’s daunting when it becomes clear that few houses have the resources to pursue all avenues.  But it seems as though some things never change., for example, shares that 79% of their subscribers say they discover titles off-line through word-of-mouth (friends). Compare that to just 6% discover titles through Twitter. Meanwhile, literary agent Nancy Stauffer and Betsy Burton of The King’s English came up with an idea that led to “Indies First”,  a program spearheaded by author /film maker Sherman Alexie, which enlists authors to work for a day in their local indie bookstore to help kick-start a grassroots movement to revive local book selling (and, more important, local book buying).

Virtual communities like Goodreads and  and real places like your corner bookstore are still figuring out how to pair the right book with the right reader.  But then there is the old guard, such as Library Journal, which still stands strong after all of these years, as powerful gold standard for librarians to discover titles for their readers.  A forthcoming Tatra Press title, My Cancer Year: A Survivorship Memoir (Oct 2013) was recently praised in LJ’s pages: “…His reactions to cancer and survivorship will enlighten anyone facing the same crisis, those close to him, and survivors…. The honesty of this book will resonate with cancer patients, and care-givers and health professionals will find it a realistic read if they wish to know more about with if feels like to have cancer.”

As readers, reviewers, and publishers alike still try to understand how readers find books, it’s heartening to see that an old-fashioned way—book reviews curated by book professionals in a print magazine—is still so influential and relevant. And still works.

Fashion Week

The vagaries of fashion are upon us in mid-town Manhattan this week as Fashion Week usurps literature in Bryant Park (behind the New York Public Library). Even if you don’t enter the vaunted gates of the event—or attend the lavish parties in the evenings—you still get a sense of the happenings by glimpsing 80-pound, six-foot Ukranian 14-year olds teetering down Fifth Avenue in search of some calories. So, this is all about fleeting  fashion. But, what of style? And enduring style? That’s the domain of the high-rise office-dwellers from nearby Madison Avenue  glimpsing those Ukrainian models. The guys wearing the same 3-button,  Brooks Brothers Cambridge Grey worsted wool suit and perennial Alden wing-tips that was worn by their grandfathers.

Real style (think Cary Grant’s) survives generations of fashion fads. And,  most of the styles are rooted  in Anglo-American traditions of sport, hunting and business—the perfect cocktail mixing country and town attire. Clothes with precedents a century—or even two–old. So, as Fashion Week unveils new styles, it might be a good time to get reacquainted with the style that has had genuine staying power. One place to look is Tatra Press’ The Indispensable Guide to Classic Men’s Clothing, still in print after more than a decade. At this rate, this title is approaching becoming a classic in itself. (In case you are attending one of these events, please consider the Tatra Press guide to tying a bow tie—found on this website and on our Facebook page.)

The e-book vs. printed book conversation has been dragging on now for years. Usually, it’s distilled to the simple question of which format is better—laced with nostalgia for paper and intoxication of the new and instantaneous availability of digital.  In the end, readers  (i.e. the market) will decide on that, so there’s little utility in going on about the pros and cons. E-books continue their rise—Publishers Weekly notes that e-book sales rose 44% from 2011 to 2012 and represent 20% of sales of trade books.

But, recently, the Pew Research Center released an interesting tid-bit of a finding that got me thinking: adults with young children are more likely to read e-books themselves than childless adults. However, about four in five of those same adults with kids feel that it is “very important” for their children to read print books. Seems like a double standard, but Pew fathoms it may because parents want their children to share the same experience with books that they had. Or, it may be because the reading of physical books “model” the reading habit more conspicuously than looking at a screen on a tablet.

Surely, kids—even toddlers—are already using digital media and interactive e-books, and that’s not surprising. It’s probably a lot of fun for them. But children also can get attached to other more ordinary things, objects—a stuffed animal, a book, worn sneakers, or the proverbial blanket—in extraordinary ways.  And, as these objects acquire a patina of personal use, somehow, the wear and tear tell a story of personal use, of palpable experience.

It reminds me of a furniture restorer who convinced me not to restore 19th century table. He pointed out a black  curved line on the surface that seemed ruinous to me, but beautiful to him. Maybe a hot kettle from a hearth?

This leads to me to all the history—some clear, some not so clear—attached to old, well-handled, well-used print books. There is the marginalia, of course. But there is also the charismatic signs of use by the owner. Recipe books with sauce-splattered pages.  The dog-ears marking periodic reading. Dust jackets turning to…dust.  Ex Libris lables. Christmas , birthday or anniversary wishes at the front of the book.

No better place to look for wear, than through the pages of a beat-up children’s book. And no better sight than one that has clearly gotten a ton of use. I’m sharing a couple below from my daughters’ collection. I’m sure that when I first noticed the crayon markings and torn pages I was displeased. Like most, I was taught that books were not toys. But I feel differently about that now.  I’m now thankful for their vandalism.  They remind me that as toddlers, books were true playmates. So, maybe that’s another reason why adults with kids want children to have print books. They are surrounded with friends they can hold—and even tussle with.  And all that tussling and playing records a certain slice of a history of a childhood

This Old Library

The ongoing debate surrounding the proposed renovation of the main branch of the New York Public Library at Fifth and 42nd Street­—as well as the fate of the Mid-Manhattan Library across the street—has gone from simmer to boil. One lightening rod is a proposal to remove seven stories of underground bookstacks that not only house research volumes but also support the building including one of the world’s most inspired rooms for reading, thinking, dreaming—The Rose Main Reading Room.

The $350 million plan, which includes carving out seven stories underneath this monumental pile of Vermont marble, seems overly ambitious and perhaps, unrealisitc. I’m not an engineer, but I recently had stairs installed in our home (nearly as old as the centurarian NYPL HQ (or, officially, the Stephen A. Schwarzman building). The rather modest renovation also included some foundation work. Once we started tearing things apart, the renovation puzzle changed; blueprints, schedules and budgets swiftly become moot. One shift of the structure led to other shifts and the project uncovered peculiarities leading to cost over-runs and delay. And, to get back to books, we had to tear down two built-in book stacks of our own. We decided to have those stacks incorporated elsewhere, choosing, on a small scale, to renovate without losing stacks.

Plans for greater public space are a major argument for the renovation, and, in order to make room for this space, it will be necessary to trundle off nearly one million research documents and books to a warehouse in New Jersey.

Another hiccup: the proposed design ( ) by Norman Foster looks more looks more airport than library.



Proposed design


But, then, again, Eero Saarinen’s TWA terminal at JFK ( has long been considered a modern icon.




TWA terminal at JFK


Whether the renderings add or detract from the existing building is another discussion. The point is that libraries are for study, learning, letting the mind wander. They’re a different a kind of public space as, say, a boulevard, High Line, or nearby Bryant Park.

One of the aims of the renovation is to bring in more people—in addition to other uses of the newly created space, hence a new “children and teen” center. As readers and scholars find so much available at the push of a button, it may be that this is how libraries must evolve to remain viable—more town square than a place for intellectual pursuits.

But libraries also need to be more than just a place to hang out. It is puzzling that there isn’t an equally strong compulsion—at a time when the printed word is already in its demise—to preserve and expand collections.

How about a counter-proposal: build more stacks to accommodate more books? It is, after all, a library.

Tatra Press has a new Facebook page: Tatra Press Facebook. We invite you to visit us, “like” us, and become active there. We look forward to hearing from you.

Book Expo America

Book Expo America (BEA), one of the world’s biggest meeting places for people in book publishing is around the corner (May30-June 1) at the steel and big concrete box west of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen–Javits Center.  For anyone who hasn’t attended BEA, picture thousands of publishers, authors, rights agents, book sellers and distributors and tourists loading up on free advance reader copies in a sort of modern bazaar. Singings and author panels are announced over speakers with the abrasive din of a Tampy Bay Rays game. Tschokes linked to books are given away liberally.

They’re all there with one aim: to get buzz, make sales, seal deals. Many do. But many do not.  Yes, it is a sort of three-ring circus, but it’s also fun and a relentless churn. It’s a chance to be immersed in not only what’s happening in book publishing now, but, more important, what trends are emerging for the next year or even two years.

But does BEA drive sales? Is the investment in the time and money to attend worthwhile?  The return on investment is there, but it may not show up immediately in orders. I’ve learned not to view it in those terms. The return is more on the ideas one absorbs, the people one meets. It gives a publisher the chance to step back and consider where he fits in, and where he ought to be moving toward. Also, publishing often boils down to relationships with people. The business can be whimsical and sometimes accidental. Showing up at BEA allows for good accidents to happen. Essentially, that’s why Tatra Press is going.

The other big reason is to go to bat for our authors and to try to get more people to know about our business.

This year, we’re bringing two titles for Fall 2013 release: MY CANCER YEAR: A Survivorship Memoir by Curtis Pesmen, an Esquire magazine writer, and RAIN FOREST WISDOM: What gorillas tell us about ourselves, by Andrew Grant, a veteran executive at the London and San Diego Zoos.  We’ll be giving away ARCs of both titles. Also, Tatra Press’ Gene Westmoreland will be doing a signing at the BEA signing area on May 30 for his A GAME FOR LIFE: Golf’s Rules and Rewards.

And, as our small contribution to the bazaar spirit of the show, Tatra will be giving away beautiful postcards like confetti, promoting RAIN FOREST WISOM—with a graphic on the mountain gorilla’s 9-step chest-beating display.

After the show, we’ll share in a blog post our impressions of this year’s BEA—trends, titles and people we think are making the publishing world a better place




When does the nostalgia of looking back, to document, begin to tug at us? A decade or two? When does the urge to rediscover a period—or edition—of New York begin to pull writers and readers toward an era and a place?

For Josh Karlen, it was about three decades. In Lost Lustre, Karlen takes a hard, honest examination of growing up in the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village in the 1970s and 1980s. Knocking around at CBGBs, Danceteria. Getting high in Central Park. Karlen takes readers by the hand and gives them his own guided tour through his spots, his times and his music.

At Tatra Press, we’ve recently done some looking back as well—creating e-books for titles we’re very proud of and offering excerpts of these titles—not just in  glimpses, but in good healthy chunks. You can find these in the sample chapters link. We also plan to share more about our authors and cast light on the writing and publishing steps we’re taking with works-in-progress. In a way, we’re creating a new edition of our publishing house (cottage).

We’re getting there—finally embracing some changes, while lamenting the slow ebb of traditional publishing, traditional bookselling and traditional book buying. In Karlen’s New York, people get lost in the cavernous stacks of The Strand bookstore. We now have different stacks to wander about in. Perhaps not as atmospheric as old creaky bookstores, but the wandering can still happen, with many more rows of stacks opening for our perusal. Take Amazon’s Kindle 100, which  selected Lost Lustre as one of its Kindle 100 List for May 2013.

So…wander, click, read and enjoy.