Our Mission

The mission of Coffee House Press is to publish exciting, vital, and enduring authors of our time; to delight and inspire readers; to contribute to the cultural life of our community; and to enrich our literary heritage. By building on the best traditions of publishing and the book arts, we produce books that celebrate imagination, innovation in the craft of writing, and the many authentic voices of the American experience.

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History

Coffee House Press began as a small letterpress operation in 1972 and has grown into an internationally renowned nonprofit publisher of literary fiction, essay, poetry, and other work that doesn’t fit neatly into genre categories. Following the small press movement of the 60s and 70s, the 80s saw an emergence of professionalization among small publishers. CHP’s late-founder Allan Kornblum saw an opportunity to create the sort of publishing house that he wished existed in the world.

Since CHP’s founding, our authors have received nominations for or have won many prizes and accolades including the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. We’ve had the honor of publishing books by Karen Tei Yamashita, Ron Padgett, Ben Lerner, Linda Hogan, Eimear McBride, Saeed Jones, Anne Waldman, and Valeria Luiselli, among many other writers we are proud to be associated with.

As a nonprofit, CHP has also received recognition and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lannan Foundation, the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, McKnight, Bush, and Jerome Foundations. These honors and awards, along with book sales and the crucial support of individual donors, keep Coffee House going and create new opportunities for our authors, readers, and program audiences.

Remaining independent has allowed us to take meaningful risks and broaden our focus. Over the past few years, we’ve started to identify as both a publisher and an arts organization.

We’ve long recognized there are many possibilities for reader/writer exchange beyond (and even without) the page. Through our Books in Action publications and programs, we’ve become interdisciplinary collaborators and incubators for new work and audience experiences—not just with Coffee House Press authors, but with visual, performing, and social practice artists, and others whose ideas and work engage and inspire. CHP’s vision for the future is one where a publisher is more than a company that packages books. We are catalysts and connectors—between authors and readers, ideas and resources, creativity and community, inspiration and action.

2015-16 marks Publisher Chris Fischbach’s 20th year at Coffee House. Under his leadership, last year was our biggest year ever for book sales, CHP’s budget passed the $1 million mark for the first time, and our books have been translated into over a dozen languages. CHP also developed Books in Action and built partnerships with organizations small and large—from Poets House in Manhattan and the Opus Archives & Research Center in Santa Barbara, CA to the Sun Ray Public Library in St. Paul, and many points beyond and between.

While we are excited about our programming model and past successes, we also want our bookshelves and yours to better reflect the wide range of voices that exists in the literature of the Americas. Recently, we’ve established our commitment to publishing literature by Latin American authors—both works in English and in translation. And in early 2015 we added our first imprint, Emily Books, a feminist press based in Brooklyn.

With your support, we’re able to make experimental, creative choices rather than react solely to sales algorithms and trends. Adventurous readers, arts enthusiasts, community builders, and risk takers—join us.