We are people who discovered, during our years working together on our previous project, Zero Books, that in general it is easier to assume that the public is stupid than it is to find a truly stupid reader. As Tariq Goddard, publisher of Repeater, has often said, it pays off to overestimate the intelligence of your readers.
One obvious, and particularly unfortunate, consequence of the way everything in the media and the arts keeps sounding a little dumber is that intellectual courage ever more easily dwindles; the freedom to say something critical and insightful is still there, but it is made to look like a burden, or something only an elitist would cherish. And artistically, the exhilaration of doing something new might as well come with a health warning: “This brings financial ruin.” Whatever the reality, it feels like it is harder than ever to justify serious artistic risks on economic grounds, as if that were the point.
These are old complaints. No need to be nostalgic; every age will have its jeremiads. What is spurring us on at Repeater is the knowledge, which we have gained through practical experience, that it is perfectly possible to raise the tone of hard political discussions without losing readers. It is not some messianic avant-garde that will shock the world out of its slumber: people have always been awake and murmuring. Speak up.
Likewise, artistic risks are as valuable as ever, and we know they can be more rewarding, to more people, more often than our cynical cultural assumptions would admit. If those who distribute art — publishers, for example — would only take equivalent risks, this would be made plainly evident. This is the gap we want to help fill.
We are still setting things up: tweaking contracts, making sure we iron out some of the weird kinks that always come up in the initial stages of projects like this. We’ve always improvised a lot. That’s part of the point.
We’re going to be using this blog as a way of promoting things our authors are working on, sharing extracts from our titles, and cross-posting from other blogs or sites with which we have some friendly affiliation. We also hope to have some original content, submitted by our own authors. At the moment, it looks like we will be splitting curating duties. Please get in touch if you have any ideas or you want to help.