Spotlight on: Luis Ortiz, Publisher

Luis Ortiz has authored three biographies/art books on artists, including the Hugo Award nominee and Locus Award finalist Emshwiller: Infinity x Two, and edited numerous books, including Cult Magazines: A to Z with Earl Kemp. His writings have appeared in diverse periodicals including Illustra­tion magazine and FilmFax. He lives and works as an publisher/editor and illustrator/designer in New York City, and is a partner and senior editor at Nonstop Press.
When was your press founded, and who started it?
I started Nonstop Press in 2004 with Arts Unknown, the first biog­raphy/art book of the Weird Tales artist Lee Brown Coye. I’ve been doing some form of pub­lishing since I was nine years old and put out my own neighborhood newsweekly using a toy printing press and rubber type and also gave away photocopies of my own handmade comic books.
Does your press have a mission statement, or is there a particular niche you aim to fill?
Publishing houses shouldn’t make mission declarations unless they are politically motivated or rashly overconfident people run them. I either initiate book projects that align with my culture and genre interests or publish authors that matter to me: Carol Emshwiller, Robert Silverberg, and Barry N. Malzberg, along with new authors such as Gay Partington Terry.
How are things going now?
Hurricane Sandy hit us hard last year. Of course, the Great Recession hasn’t helped things, making it a bit of a slog the last few years. We find ourselves working twice as hard to keep from losing ground already gained.
What’s happening next? What works are on the horizon, and what kinds of material are you looking for in the future?
We are in the process of setting up a digital-only imprint and working on some graphic novel proj­ects. We also have a big book on science fiction fanzines coming out at some point (the first of its kind in the genre, I believe). We by and large approach authors or generate projects in-house.
Here’s the obligatory big-picture question: what changes do you foresee in the publishing industry in the future, especially with the rise of e-books? How is your press responding to the changes in the publishing industry?
I don’t buy into the ‘‘Amazon taking over the world’’ thinking. I believe that in the long run Amazon will stumble in the publishing arena. I do know that e-books make it a lot easier for publishers to sell directly to readers without a mid­dleman and I don’t know why the big publishers are not doing more of this. Many times at con­ventions I see readers showrooming (checking prices on books they find on the table to see if they can get them cheaper online), which is one reason why we always do price cuts at shows to match online discounts. I also think that independent bookstores, run by smart, book-loving people, will make a comeback to some extent (if not up to the numbers of the last century) – if I weren’t a publisher I think I would be running a bookstore. These days the latter seems less crazy than the former.
How many books are you publishing each year, and what recent titles are you especially excited about?
We should have five or six books out this year. I’m excited about The Very Best of Barry N. Malzberg, just published. Malzberg has been under-appreciated for too long. We reissued Silverberg’s Lord of Darkness early this year; the first new edition in 30 years. The Monkey’s Other Paw, which is set to appear around Hallow­een, is an anthology of all new sequels, prequels, retellings, homages, and alternate PoV takes on classic terror tales, re-imagined by some of the best writers of fantastika working today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *