Bruce Rutledge and Yuko Enomoto founded Chin Music Press in 2002 while living in Tokyo. At the time, media conglomerates were swallowing up publishing companies, greatly reducing the opportunities for risky books to get into print. The time was ripe for small presses to fill the gap, especially with contemporary and edgy literature from Japan.
“Chin Music” is a play on Mark Twain’s phrase describing a preacher’s sweet way of talking, and a baseball term for a high pitch that backs a batter away from the plate. With that in mind, our books would not only be risky, they would be beautiful. Designers Craig Mod and Josh Powell employed Japanese aesthetics to create “literary objects” — books that are a pleasure to touch as well as read. NPR describes them as “a triumphant kick in the pants for anyone who doubts the future of paper-and-ink books.”
After the levees broke in New Orleans, David Rutledge, a professor at the University of New Orleans, spearheaded Chin Music’s effort to publish one of the first books about those early days. The success of that book, Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? led us to create our critically acclaimed imprint Broken Levee Books.
Starting our second decade, we, like all small presses, are trying to nimbly keep up with the recession, bookstore closures, and the rise of digital books. Social networking has become increasingly important in publishing. Throughout all these changes we remain dedicated to our vision of that sweet chin music.