April 24, 2011
If you have any interest in publishing, you’ve heard of Richard Nash—you may count yourself among his more than 70,000 Twitter followers . . . which can at times make him seem more like a popular guitarist or actor than, you know, an indie publishing dude. In fact, giving an account of Richard’s career—most notably his distinguished stint running Soft Skull Press, during which time he transformed it from a small cult-fave to one of the most formidable indie presses in the country—can’t really begin to address what it is about this guy that has the entire publishing world sitting at attention. By his own admission, he doesn’t tend to be where the big money’s at—Soft Skull had infamous financial difficulties that partially led to its acquisition by Counterpoint (a move that failed to solve the problem), and now Nash is involved in a highly ambitious start-up company, Cursor, at a time when most people are crying Armageddon in terms of the literary economy. Yet when Nash talks, people listen—perhaps precisely because of the fact that he is one of the few in the publishing industry to embrace change and upheaval with an unbridled enthusiasm rather than with fear. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Richard about Cursor’s pioneering “community based” publishing arm, Red Lemonade, which is currently an invitation-only site, not viewable by the general public. If Nash’s popularity—and enthusiasm for lit-based community—are any indications, however, Red Lemonade will not be under cover for very long, and soon everyone will be talking about its visionary role in the Brave New Publishing World.