Penny-Ante is an independent publisher.
Since its inception, Penny-Ante titles have attempted to subvert traditional genres and forms, and embrace experimentation to explore the impact of the Internet and technology on culture and experience. Titles have been discussed and studied in various publications and journals, have been taught in university Media/Screen Studies and English classes, and exhibited in gallery exhibitions.
Early Works (2006-2009)
In 2006, the press was informally founded through the publication of its first journal Penny-Ante: Book 1, which saw unexpected success largely thanks to media attention; Book 2 followed in 2007 and the final issue, Three, in 2009. Each issue functioned as a type of depository for the found and forgettable, presenting a loosely-directed collection of ephemera, art, and text. Visual works, poetry, photos, handwritten letters, discarded writing, notes, trash, interviews, printed emails, and flyers were collected from individuals and put to page. The result: a hoarder’s exhibition or preservation act.
These issues were released during the height of MySpace’s popularity. Humans were turning into online profiles. MySpace “friends” were a new kind of currency. The dissemination of information was being sped up and the ways in which communication, art and culture were experienced was changing. Publishing these works was proposed as an act of rebellion—an attempt to stop time; to gather what couldn’t be altered, appropriated, or buried in an online bulletin board. Additionally, the journals strove to break up hierarchies by bringing together artists in various career stages and orienting their works horizontally.
Over three hundred individuals were included across the three journals, some of which included musicians Billy Bragg, Jad Fair of the band Half Japanese, Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux, Martin Phillips from the Flying Nun band The Chills, musician John Maus, photographer Ann Summa, writer Bett Williams, and artists Wynne Greenwood, Terence Koh, Heather Brown, Dawn Kasper, and Julian Hoeber. Artist Jason Yates, then operating under “Fast Friends Inc.”, was commissioned to create covers for the first two journals.
Success and Failure Series (2012-2016)
After a three-year hiatus, Penny-Ante devoted itself exclusively to publishing high-quality paperbacks that would fall under what would be called the Success and Failure Series. The series was initiated to welcome authors and artists whose works accomplished at least one of the following:
- Pursued revisionary and innovative forms to articulate an immanent response to popular culture and politics (See: Damnation, If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write?, Love Dog, Reconsolidation, Tex, UnAmerica)
- Pursued contradiction as a reccurring motif (See: Abigail Adams, The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding, Reconsolidation, What Gets Kept [LP])
- Pursued satirical and/or critical constructions that challenged convention and institutional thought (See: Antiepithalamia: & Other Poems of Regret and Resentment, Defiant Pose, Love Dog, Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane, UnAmerica)
Sixteen titles were released in the Success and Failure Series between 2012-2016 by authors and artists Alex Chaves, Beau Rice, Janice Lee, Jarett Kobek, John Tottenham, Lynne Tillman, Masha Tupitsyn, Mick Farren, Momus, and Stewart Home.
The Guardian named Mandy, Charlie & Mary-Jane by Stewart Home one of the “Best Paperbacks of 2013” and in 2014 called UnAmerica by Momus “the most entertaining (and readable) experimental art novels of the last few years.” BOMB Magazine called Masha Tupitysn’s art book/digital liturgy, Love Dog, “not only a gorgeous conceptual work on the self we construct virtually and serially, but also an important work on feminism and visual culture.” Damnation, Janice Lee’s ekphrastic work inspired by the films of Béla Tarr and his filmic long take, was called a “rare phenomenon” and Jarett Kobek’s If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write? a “sobering diagnosis of the collective state of the American mind.”
Book events and author talks were held at universities (NYU, USC), bookstores (Skylight Books, Printed Matter), small theatres (Besant Lodge in Los Angeles, Odd Fellows Hall in San Francisco), and small artist-run/gallery spaces.
Though many Penny-Ante titles are now out of print, a handful remain in circulation (as of 2021).
Select titles in the Success and Failure Series are distributed in the United States by SCB Distributors.
Select titles in the Success and Failure Series are distributed in the United Kingdom by Turnaround Distribution.
For further inquiry on availability, archival samples or documentation, please email us.
info (at) penny-ante (dot) net
Penny-Ante is currently inactive and is therefore not accepting submissions for publication at this time.