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A follow-up to Kamila Shamsie's provocation to "let’s have a year of publishing only women":

Small press And Other Stories will produce no books by men in 2018 in answer to Kamila Shamsie’s call for direct action to beat gender bias in publishing

And Other Stories, the literary press that uses a network of readers to source its titles, has become the first publisher to accept the challenge. “I think we can do it,” said publisher Stefan Tobler. “And if we don’t do it, what is going to change?”

A small publisher, And Other Stories releases 10 to 12 new titles a year. “We’ve realised for a while that we’ve published more men than women,” said Tobler. “This year we’ve done seven books by men and four by women ... We have a wide range of people helping us with our choices, and our editors are women ... and yet somehow we still publish more books by men than women.”

Tobler’s colleague Sophie Lewis, a senior editor at And Other Stories, said she expected the team would be “rescheduling male writers’ books for other years [and] digging harder and further than usual, in order to find the really good women’s writing that we want to publish” in 2018.

But the main thing she wants to do over the course of the year is “to examine the selection and promotion process, the production of their books from commissioning to reader’s bedside”.

“By taking on the challenge we will expose our systems and the paths of recommendation and investigation that brings books to us, and we will end up becoming a kind of small-scale model for a much bigger inquiry about why women’s writing is consistently sidelined or secondary, the poor cousin rather than the equal of men’s writing,” said Lewis.

“Personally, I’d rather not think about it. Why should we have to? Surely great writing will out? It seems not – or it seems so consistently that women’s writing makes it less often that we have to doubt the fairness of the systems in place. So it will be worth carrying out a year of publishing only women in order to document the difficulties involved.”

Tobler said he “hoped other publishers would join in”, but while literary agent Clare Alexander praised Shamsie for “purposefully being an agent provocateur”, she said it was unlikely that the UK’s larger publishers would commit to publishing only women.


I went to go take a look at And Other Books' catalog and am pretty impressed with the material they print. Interestingly to me too as a book historian, they also have a subscriber model to help the process, where you can subscribe to get 2, 4, or 6 of their books each year. I'm going to end up getting at least a couple books by them because I applaud their efforts.

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