One-Minute Book Reviews

September 18, 2007

Great Small Presses #2: Milkweed Editions

Filed under: Great Small Presses — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:18 am
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Fed up with the poor quality of so many books from major publishers? This is the second in a series of posts on great small or independent presses that have had high standards for years and sometimes decades.

In addition to its usual reviews, One-Minute Book Reviews will post a short profile of a different publisher each day this week, including a link to its site, which you may want to consult for holiday gift ideas. The series will continue after this week on an occasional basis.

An independent publisher that wants to make “a humane impact on society”

By Janice Harayda

Milkweed Editions bills itself as “the largest independent, nonprofit literary publisher in the United States.” Founded in 1979, it seeks to make “a humane impact on society, in the belief that good writing can transform the human heart and spirit.”

Unlike commercial firms, Mikweed receives grants from foundations that enable its editors to look for books of exceptional merit, not exceptional profitability, for adults and children. The outside financial support also enables the Minneapolis–based press to publish unusually well-designed books.

The most admired Milkweed books include Susan Lowell’s young-adult novel, I am Lavina Cumming, winner of the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association Award for its beautifully told story of a 10-year-old girl who travels by train from the Arizona Territory to California, where she survives the San Francisco Earthquake. The site for the press lists other award-winning titles. Milkweed is also the American publisher of Jutta Richter, one of Germany’s most honored children’s authors.

On Saturday One-Minute Book Reviews will review The Summer of the Pike, Richter’s first young-adult novel to be published by Milkweed.

One-Minute Book Reviews was the seventh-ranked book review site on Google of Sept. 6, 2007. It does not accept free books from publishers.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Janice, on the topic of finding great books… ones that don’t completely send me one sleep or into a 3-day loathing period for all things publishy, do you know of any site which does for books what does for movies…

    I am desperate for new authors along the lines of Ben Elton, PJ O’Rourke or Carl Hiaasen with a witty writing style but also some substance and the ongoing promise of never facing the prospect of a Greek letter in the title!

    Comment by midnightjester — September 18, 2007 @ 11:53 am

  2. Have you tried, the trade journal for the publishing industry? Click on the page that says “Reviews.”

    I just did this and searched for “Ben Elton.” The results give you every mention of him, so they should bring up all the reviews that have phrases like “may remind you of Ben Elton,” “a style similar to Ben Elton’s” or “fans of Ben Elton will enjoy … ”

    My only caution is that because PW is a trade journal, the reviews are often less blunt than you might find on blogs. They’re written for the publishing industry, so they tend to be more sympathetic to many books — especially “big” books — than a lot of bloggers would be. (I haven’t looked up Ian McEwan, but I’d bet the PW review is more favorable than mine.) And the site also has a vast amount of publishing news that may not interest you. But PW may review more books than any other well-respected site you can access for free. So it might be your best bet. Hope this helps. If not, I might be able to suggest a few other places …

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — September 18, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  3. In addition to your comments, Milkweed Editions deserves high marks for their willingness to consider the work of new authors without the “agented submissions only” requirement.


    Comment by knightofswords — September 19, 2007 @ 1:21 pm

  4. Malcolm:
    Definitely. That virtue is shared by most, if not all, of the publishers I’m featuring this week. One of the great things about many small presses is that they will actually READ unsolicited work (and, sometimes, give you thoughtful feedback), though it may take months because they’re typically short of money and, therefore, staff. Thanks for pointing this out.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — September 19, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

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