Purveyors of Publishing: Emily Books Makes Its Own Rules

By Hannah Lenore Gray


There are those who abhor e-readers and their increasing popularity, instead pledging to remain loyal to physical paper copies of their favorite novels. And then there are those that love — and will continue to read — physical copies, but who also understand the reality of the book industry’s electronic future. Emily Gould and her business partner Ruth Curry, the duo behind the online indie book club Emily Books, fall into the latter category. With practical attitudes and a rational approach, the two (who also happen to be best friends) formed their business model.

So here’s how it works: after you sign up for a subscription, Emily Books will send you one carefully selected book each month. That book, which is personally chosen by Curry and Gould, can be anything from collections of poetry to memoirs. Previous picks include “Glory Goes and Gets Some” by Emily Carter, a tale of a privileged heroin addict, and “Nine Months” by Paula Bomer, which chronicles the eventual breakdown of an overwhelmed and under-satisfied mother. In the site’s FAQ page, Gould puts it like this:

“Any book published (or about to be published) at any time anywhere is fair game, with the caveat that we have a bias towards books that are unjustly forgotten, hidden gems, weird genius marvels that were ahead of their time, or books coming out soon that seem like they might slip through the cracks unless someone gives them a boost.”

But just because the content of Emily Books is distributed in an electronic format (think Kindles, Nooks and iPads, etc.), it does not mean that Gould and Curry’s love for tangible paper copies has fallen by the wayside in the wake of their successful venture. With their all-encompassing status — the company acts simultaneously as a publisher, bookstore and book club — Emily Books is also positioned to support print.

Through a recent partnership with Coffeehouse Press, titles carefully curated by Gould and Curry will manifest into print. The partnership means that each year, Coffeehouse Press will publish two new Emily Books titles, starting with the Spring 2016 release of Jade Sharma’s debut novel, Problems. In turn, Gould and Curry will deal with acquiring the works and editing them.

The cool thing about this collaboration is the continued evolution characterizing the world of books. In an era where brick and mortar stores are forced to shut their doors (RIP Borders) in the face of heavy competition of the electronic sort (cough, Amazon) Emily Books is a perfect example of how a love for books can remain steadfast no matter the economic climate or the trends of the time. It is somewhat naïve to believe that paper copies will always remain in the majority’s favor (no matter how much most bookworms, myself included, would love to believe it). Today’s kids grow up playing and learning on iPads, so it’s no surprise that the literary world has shifted their focus to satisfying electronic formats. But with an approach like that of Emily Books, everyone can be happy.