This summer, I got the chance to correspond with Sarah Lopez, one of the co-owners of Radix Media, a new Brooklyn-based publisher that focuses on beautifully designed, illustrated books with a high attention to detail. So far, they’ve published speculative works by John Dermot Woods, Vera Kurian, Ashley Shelby, and others. All look and feel like collector’s items, objects that truly do justice to the ideas they contain.
What is Radix Media? Tell us a bit about how you started, who started it, and what your publishing goals are.
Radix Media is a worker-owned and operated printer and publisher based in Brooklyn, New York. We started out as a commercial printer back in 2010 and have gone through many changes throughout the years. It’s been in its current state since 2017 after merging with Wasp Poster & Print.
We launched our publishing program in April 2018 with Aftermath: Explorations of Loss & Grief, which we are proud to say is a Bronze winner in the 2018 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards. Our mission as a publisher is to publish new ideas and fresh perspectives, prioritizing the voices of typically marginalized communities to get to the root of the human experience.
What kind of work do you publish, and why? Who are your ideal readers? Which authors would you love to publish?
We want to publish stories that get to the root of the human experience. For us that means sharing stories from people who are normally silenced, telling those stories that often go untold.
Our ideal readers are people who are willing to take a chance on something out of the ordinary. People who are open-minded and willing to learn about experiences different than their own.
Our priority is to publish authors who might have a hard time finding a publishing home—whether that’s due to their identity, subject matter, or writing style.
How do you think about the physical aspects of book design, and the practicalities of running a small publishing company? What is unique in your approach?
Because we also run a commercial print shop, we have intimate knowledge of every step in the production process. This puts us in a unique position where have a lot of flexibility. We can produce high-quality books at an accessible price point, and are able to use our skills as designers to play to the strengths of our equipment.
We’ve been quoting and pricing out other people’s print jobs for so many years that we know how to cut costs without losing quality. We put a lot of care into our books and often use higher quality paper and more expensive printing processes that most publishers can’t afford to use for anything but huge books. We don’t mean to brag, but we really have a great team and setup.
What is the Futures series, and how does it relate to your other work?
Futures: A Science Fiction Series explores critical contemporary issues in an imagined future. We’re publishing seven literary science fiction stories as standalone chapbooks between April and October, with a box set of all seven stories to be released in Fall 2019. We love science fiction, and think that fiction in general can help people with their feelings of despair and isolation, and inspire them to act.
The stories that we chose to publish aren’t your typical science fiction stories; they’re about interpersonal relationships and the internal conflicts that the characters experience, rather than focusing on the worlds that they inhabit. Don’t get us wrong, these near future worlds are integral to the stories, but they’re more of a backdrop.
How does Futures relate to our other work? These are the kinds of stories that we want to keep publishing. We have a diverse set of authors, all exploring different themes, and we want to continue on that path.
What are the biggest challenges in publishing today, and how do you seek to address them? What are your hopes for the future of the company?
One of the biggest challenges in publishing is the economics of the industry. We’ve made a commitment to paying our visual artists and authors a professional rate, and on time, something that unfortunately is not the standard. We’d love to grow so that we can publish more, and pay more people for their work. We also hope to bring on more staff, and do our part to provide sustainable, living wage jobs. We’d say that we’re still a baby company, and trying to figure out how to make these transitions. We’d love advice from more seasoned publishers!