Philly publisher nurtures new means of connecting writers, readers

A small publishing company in Philadelphia is looking at farmers as a business model.

Similar to “community supported agriculture,” The Head and The Hand Press in Fishtown is accepting subscriptions for “community supported publishing.”

In community supported agriculture, seasonal subscribers get a box packed full of food every week, which guarantees the farmer will sell produce and the customer gets a deal.

The model has been adapted to artists, in which patrons pay in advance for a box of art, unseen.

Nic Esposito, a longtime agricultural activist in Philadelphia who started a publishing company last year, has taken cues from farm membership models as a way to connect writers with readers.

“The only business training I’ve ever had was through agriculture,” said Esposite. “Working around farms, and trying to figure out how farmers can make money. Farmers and writers can be in a very similar situation sometimes.”

The Head and the Hand Press has only a few titles in its catalogue, but Esposito says many more are coming. He is now asking customers to become members, paying $50 in advance to receive a semi-annual box of fresh words.

“Farmers and writers get into this not to make money — it’s something they love, and it’s something they are providing society,” said Esposito. “I guess you can say that about any business, but moreso, that connection is made … in writing and farming.”

Esposito is getting a novel by area journalist Nathaniel Popkin ready for publication, and planning a series of quarterly almanacs featuring short fiction, essays, poetry, and photography. The first shipment of literature is scheduled for the end of October.

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