Bath-based indie bookshop Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is launching its own publishing company, Fox, Finch & Tepper.
The award-winning independent will specialise in “resurrecting under-celebrated, beautifully written books with a strong sense of place”, and will begin its new venture by publishing two backlist titles.
The Shiralee, D’Arcy Niland’s 1955-published début novel, is regarded as a classic of Australian literature. It is published by Penguin Australia, and Mr B’s owner Nic Bottomley obtained the UK rights directly from Niland’s estate. He said: “The book is emotionally charged, funny and punctuated by scenes of incredible tension. It is a novel of life and companionship on the road, and of the power of the ties that bind.”
The second title is The Next Step in the Dance by Tim Gautreaux, originally published in 1998. Gautreaux’s Missing, published by Hodder, has sold 1,200 copies through Mr B’s shop alone, and author Kate Atkinson has provided a quote for the new novel’s cover. Bottomley said: “Missing is one of our bestselling titles and we think [The Next Step...] has even broader appeal.” Set in small-town Louisiana, the novel tells of strong-willed, restless heroine Colette, who longs for the lights of California; and the quiet determination of her husband to win her back. Bottomley acquired rights by contacting the author.
Bottomley said: “Setting up a publishing branch is something I’ve been considering for some time. I have young children and I don’t want to open another shop, so we have been thinking of other ways to grow the business—this seems like a good one. Everyone who works in the shop will be involved in some way. It is something we are all really excited about.”
The name Fox, Finch & Tepper nods to three literary characters. Bottomley said: “Fox is from Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl, obviously, because he is always wily.” Finch comes from Scout Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird—“because she is an inquisitive character”—and Tepper from a little-known character, Murray Tepper, from American novel Tepper Isn’t Going Out by Calvin Trillin. In the novel, Tepper finds a great parking space in New York and sits in his car reading, infuriating drivers around him.
“Tepper is a book that is not obvious, but it is brilliant, which is what we’re all about,” said Bottomley. Of the name, he said: “We also wanted a title that was long and convoluted to continue the trend of the bookshop, but also because we thought it sounded old and traditional.”
Both titles will be high-quality paperbacks with an r.r.p. of £9.99, published on 6th November.
The titles will be available through Bertrams and Gardners “on normal terms”, Bottomley said, but significantly, the company will not be “going out of its way” to form commercial relationships with online retailers. “If Amazon wants to list the titles then of course nothing is stopping them, but we are not going to seek a commercial relationship with the company, mainly because I have absolutely no interest in pandering to absurd terms.”
Mr B’s has previously experimented with publishing; it co-published the hardback novel The Howling Miller by Finnish writer Arto Paasilinna, translated by Will Hobson, with Canongate in 2012.