Publisher's Notebook

Hold the Bag, Please

When Jennifer and I named the company Brown Paper Press four years ago, we had no idea it would be a difficult name to remember. It seemed so simple to us—as simple as, well, brown paper.

And yet, I might have guessed that the name would invoke images not of a roll of plain brown paper, but of the ubiquitous—and, I suppose, even culturally iconic—brown paper bag. Indeed, Brown Paper Press has been called a lot of wrong things over the last four years, but there’s always always always a “bag” in there somewhere:


Brown Paper Bag
Brown Bag
Paper Bag
Paper Bag Press

...and the list goes on. It’s fine. Honestly. I’m not offended. Sure, brown paper bags do not exactly scream high quality. And, no, we were definitely not going for sack-lunch imagery when we named the press. But it’s understandable all the same.

And anyway, if we stick around long enough, the name eventually will roll off the tongue. Like Random House! Okay, not like Random House.

In the meantime, though, perhaps it would be helpful to swap out that sack-lunch image for the one below—because this one, truly, is what we had in mind when the press was founded.



You remember when you were a kid and your grade-school teacher asked you to cover a book in Craft paper, right? Surely at least one of your grade-school teachers did that. Those projects were so much fun, weren’t they? And that paper! It was so inviting. How it beckoned our words and drawings, opened up our imaginations, and sparked our creativity.

Those books encased in all those brand-new, crease-free, brown-paper jackets just seemed so goddamn full of potential.

Just like us. 

Or so I like to think.

BPP is a slow-growing—some might say glacially-slow-growing—press, and we have so few titles under our belts. But the potential is here, and our pace is mostly reflective of my desire to be in the game for a long, long time. After all, paper is a wonderful thing, but it burns easily. I am necessarily protective of what Jennifer and I created. I want to keep the candle lit, but I also want to contain the flame.

Jennifer and I always said we wanted to be a place for curious minds in modern times. We wanted to reflect our culture and to publish books that matter.

That, I think, will always be my goal: Fresh perspectives, relevant titles, full of potential.