Influx Press is an independent publisher based in north London. Influx is committed to publishing innovative and challenging fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction from across the UK and beyond, and they have just launched a new subscription model for 2020. In this interview, co-founder Kit Caless explains the thinking behind this new project.
You’ve just announced that your 2020 titles will be available as a subscription: what prompted you to try the subscription model?
We ran a Patreon page for most of the last year, and it worked to some extent. However, the fees Patreon charge at both ends (to us, and to our patrons) eventually encouraged us to go it alone. This is also the first year coming up that we know exactly what we will be publishing and when and had all the covers ready in advance! It sounds like a small deal, but to a press our size it’s massive – being that organised is new for us haha. We love connecting directly to our readers so we wanted to continue with some form of subscription. With this new model, readers can choose 3, 6, or 9 books for the year at staggered price points. And with all the book info available for 2020 we thought we could offer our readers a very informed choice on which books to choose in their subscription.
What are the advantages for small publishers of running a subscription service – and what are the benefits for readers?
For readers the benefits are cheaper books, delivered to your door, and a month before publication date, but also the knowledge that they are directly propping up the publisher. Readers like to be part of the process, particularly with small presses. There’s an investment of time and energy and support for us because they know we are at a distinct disadvantage in the market, but are publishing some of the most daring and different literature out there. We would be nothing without our readers’ support and dedication, believe me. For publishers our size, it certainly helps cash flow – to get some money in ahead of a big print run or author tour is essential. It also helps build early hype. I think subscriptions are one of the ways small publishers can survive and thrive in an industry where the odds are stacked against them.
Do you think the Influx list is particularly suited to this model?
Yeah I do actually. We publish whatever the hell we want, and have no real sense of building ‘a list’ or sticking to one form of literature. By doing a subscription model, our readers get the most eclectic, surprising and inventive books that they might not otherwise pick up. Not because they wouldn’t enjoy them, but because the marketing of books is so box-ticky and conservative. Someone who reads a book about grime might also love a book about car parks. Someone who loves experimental short stories might also like an architectural romance set in Sri Lanka. Readers are always open to new experiences, and we love that.
I think our readers trust us to produce good books whatever the subject or form. It’s like being an independent record label, fans buy the music because it’s been vouched for by the label. I think sometimes people buy Influx books because they are Influx books. Same goes with Faber, say, or Fitzcarraldo. You don’t get that with many corporate publishing imprints, other than perhaps Dialogue or Chatto.
Do you see this subscription model continuing into 2021 and beyond?
Definitely! The subscription model is based on a year’s worth of books, but you can subscribe at any time. You choose either 3, 6 or 9 titles from our 2020 list. When it comes to 2021, we will have a brand new set of 3,6 and 9 titles to choose. If anything it’s encouraging us to be as organised as we were this year getting 2020 together!
To find out more about the 2020 Influx subscription list, visit their website.