No Electronic Submissions, Please. We’re Luddites
The Pushcart Prize XXXVI: Best of the Small Presses (2012 Edition) is out, and once again promises all kinds of special treats for readers, particularly fiction readers. Fine work they would possibly never encounter were they to rely solely on The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and the few other major outlets for short stories.
On Amazon the listing has a small box containing this: “Tell the Publisher! I’d like to read this book on a Kindle.” I had to laugh, ironically, when I saw that. In fact, nothing from Pushcart will ever be seen on a Kindle if the publisher––whose name, by coincidence, is the same as mine, “Bill Henderson”––has his way.
What’s up with that? In an essay in in Luna Park: on Literary Magaines, editor Travis Kurowski lays out a view similar to the one I hold. Both of us laud Bill Henderson for giving us The Pushcart Press. There’s no doubt Henderson came along at a time when a viable alternative to corporatized publication was sorely needed. But when the “digital revolution” began to change the world as we know it, rather than catch that wave and ride it, he let it break on his head.
I first became aware of this when, back in the 90s, he declared himself to be in reaction to the trending future by asserting that writers should stick to old-tech, pencil and paper, and not get sucked into the electronic maws of word processing and the Internet. In 1994, he published The Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club, a collection of short pieces he solicited from writers who felt as he did. If you try hard enough you can still find a copy.
Rather than lay into it in this post, let me direct you, if you want to know more, to an article I’ve posted here. “Note to Pushcart’s Bill Henderson – Get the Lead Out of the Future” will give you a late 1990s glimpse of some writers, and a major editor, frozen with anxiety and frustration, as a future they don’t understand begins to unfold around them.