Holy Cow! jumping over the moon with excitement

In the struggle of smaller publishing houses to market books in an ever-more-difficult market, Duluth's Holy Cow! Press caught a big break last week.

In the struggle of smaller publishing houses to market books in an ever-more-difficult market, Duluth's Holy Cow! Press caught a big break last week.

"As Long as the Moon Shall Rise: Reflections on the Full Moon," edited by Ellen Moore Anderson, has been chosen by Book Sense as one of its top picks for July.

"It's quite an amazing honor to be selected from such a vast array of new books," publisher Jim Perlman said. "In fact, I was just reading the other day that they estimate there were 195,000 new titles published in 2004. When you've got a publishing landscape like that, you've got to work extra hard to promote each book."

It's almost uncharted territory for the publisher, so the effect is difficult to predict, but there is every reason to believe it will be significant.

Perlman calls the Book Sense process "wonderful." Publishers can nominate their books and send out descriptive information about the book to the 1,200 independent book stores which are members of Book Sense.


From there, store owners can receive sample copies. Perlman sent out about 50 copies of the moon book to fill requests.

Then picks are chosen based on the feedback Book Sense gets.

"On the basis of the positive responses that the book store owners gave to the moon book, they chose it for inclusion in their pick list," Perlman said.

That means that all those 1,200 book stores will receive a list of 20 titles for recommended purchase -- with "As Long as the Moon Shall Rise" sitting in the third spot -- in July.

In addition, Book Sense will distribute 450,000 brochures for distribution in individual book stores to promote the selection. The timing is also perfect. The July date not only coinciding with summer reading but also with a national book expo in New York.

"I don't know if I'll surpass Jane Fonda, but I'm optimistic," Perlman said.

Book Sense has boosted one other Holy Cow book, a poetry book about three years ago during National Poetry Month. Perlman estimates he sold perhaps 1,200 additional copies because of the recommendation.

But that happened by chance -- it wasn't nominated by Perlman -- and was in the much smaller poetry niche.


"I think it's framed in more of a mainstream context with the other titles on the list," he said.

Perlman says he doesn't know how many books he was competing against, but the list includes titles from publishers like Random House, Doubleday, Holt, Penguin Press, Bantam and Basic, leading Perlman to speculate that nominations are a routine part of the marketing for those giant publishers.

"As Long as the Moon Shall Rise" marked a departure for Holy Cow! Press, as it shifts away from publishing poetry toward more mainstream books. It features writings and artwork about the full moon. The eclectic collection of writings come from Northland writers, in addition to astronauts, philosophers, poets and even nursery rhymes.

Perlman said critical acclaim had come for the book, with favorable reviews in daily newspapers in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth, as well as the Minnesota Women's Press. (It was also reviewed in the Budgeteer.)

Perlman said the Book Sense recommendation helps solve a major problem, though. The book's regional focus seemed to guarantee a regional audience.

"I've been struggling with how to promote the book beyond the Midwest," he said.

The Book Sense listing is thus a major breakthrough for a national market.

"The future of the moon book is as bright as the full moon," Perlman said.

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