Established in 1994, minimum fax is, proudly, still completely independent, and it’s now considered a classic example of a succesfull small press in Italy.
Everything began in early 1993 when Marco Cassini, then 22 years old, and Daniele di Gennaro, 25, founded minimum fax, "the first literary fax magazine", a 6-8 pages fax newsletter with short stories, poems, and interviews with writers we sent to subscribers in Italy and abroad. After eighteen months, we decided to start the book adventure, and the publishing house was founded.
After two and a half years of a semi-amateurish activity (we were then a group of just three people, with no office, and had produced as little as a dozen books altogether), in 1997 we reached the goal of nationwide distribution, and started a yearly publication plan of at least 15 titles. This, along with the first translations of foreign books, and the image of a young dynamic enterprise that we had gained since the very beginning, made minimum fax visible and recognizable to both common readers and industry professionals.
Since then, minimum fax estabilished itself as an undisputed presence in the italian publishing market. The structure has increased (10 full-time people are currently employed) but the ownership is still indipendent, Cassini and Di Gennaro holding the 100% of it. The production is now of 30 titles per year, with almost 150.000 books sold yearly.
From fax to fiction
In 1998 minimum fax made its biggest step toward widespread popularity, acquiring the rights to the whole corpus of Raymond Carver's work, including a world premiere for a bunch of then new, unpublished stories. The fact that such a great writer was going to be published by a very small press made the news, and minimum fax wanted to do a great job: we started a high-quality project of reprints and new translations for a master of contemporary literature who was almost neglected in Italy, and unknown especially to younger readers in our country.
Besides Carver, minimum fax has been building a strong catalogue of younger writers from the United States, whose works we publish in a series called Sotterranei ("subterraneans"): David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody, A.M. Homes, Donald Antrim, Aimee Bender, Matthew Klam, Julia Slavin, Colson Whitehead, David Means...
These are published along with "contemporary classics" from the U.S., such as Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Charles Bukowski. A new series of contemporary classics of American fiction called minimum classics has been launched in Spring 2003. In this new series we re-print, and in same cases offer for the first time to Italian readers, some great contemporary classics of American fiction that have not been in print in Italy for a long time or that have never been translated before. Aim of the project is to trace an ideal link between the younger generation of American writers of our list and the previous (John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Richard Yates, James Purdy, Stanley Elkin, Nelson Algren, Mary Robison, Bernard Malamud, etc.), and therefore we're asking young writers such as Rick Moody, A.M. Homes, Aimee Bender, Sam Lipsyte, whose work is familiar to our readers, to write original introductions to these books.
Since 2000 we have also been publishing new fiction from young Italian writers in our series called Nichel ("nickel"): we discovered a dozen new authors so far, and all of them have been very well reviewed; in few cases, film rights have been sold, and most of them have been awarded nationally recognized literary prizes. Rights to some of these debut writers have been sold abroad.
Recently, minimum fax has taken an interest in the new literary fiction from Europe, translating some of the best young russian writers (Viktor Pelevin, Dmitri Bakin and Sergej Shargunov) french writers (Veronique Ovaldé, Olivier Adam, and Philippe Vasset) and scottish writers (Ali Smith and A.L. Kennedy).
We also have three non-fiction series: one of them is called Filigrana ("watermark") and it has both literary non-fiction (by Paul Auster, Anton Cekhov, Francis Scott Fitgzerald, Allen Ginsberg, Patricia Highsmith, Flannery O'Connor, and essays on J.D. Salinger by Ian Hamilton and on Ernest Hemingway by Lillian Ross) and politics: books by Christopher Hitchens, Doris Lessing, and our non-fiction best-seller, Bruno Ballardini's Jesus Washes Whiter, or How the Catholic Church Invented Marketing (recently sold in Germany, Portugal, and Argentina).
In Macchine da scrivere ("typewriters") since 1995 minimum fax has being translating the world-famous Paris Review interviews on the Art of Writing. We have published up to twenty interviews to date, each in a separate pocket book with an introduction by an Italian writer and a complete bio-bibliography. They include Truman Capote, Henry Miller, William Faulkner, Gabriel García Márquez, Raymond Carver, etc.
The third, and newest non-fiction collection is called Indi and will present current affairs, politics, and reportage from both international and Italian writers. First title in the series is the bestselling Confessions of an economi Hitman by John Perkins.
Music and cinema
Started in 2000, minimum fax cinema is a series completely dedicated to film theory: books by Antonin Artaud, Lars von Trier, David Mamet, Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Eleanor Coppola, and separate thematic selections from the most famous interviews, essays, and articles from Les Cahiers du cinéma are in the list.
As for the books dedicated to music, our aim is to underline the literary value of great documentary works such as the famous jazz autobiographies by Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and to introduce musicians as literary writers, publishing not just their lyrics but their fiction or poetry: Suzanne Vega, Pete Townshend, John Lennon, Ani DiFranco, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen are among our authors.
What else we do
In 2003 Rosita Bonanno, an independent film producer, joined Marco Cassini and Daniele di Gennaro. Together they started minimum fax media, an independent film production company. Its first project is Writing New York, a series of nine documentaries on contemporary writers who live in and tell stories about New York City. The series has been succesfully broadcast by Cult Tv, an Italian satellite channel, and rights are currently being sold worldwide.
Being an independent company in a country where media are controlled by politicians, and the industry is in the hands of few groups, minimum fax truly believes in the power of independent publishing. That’s the main reason why, in 2002, we started a permanent workshop for young people who want to start their own independent presses. Several new small presses have been founded by people who attended our workshops, and we are so proud of them!
We also offer creative writing classes held by our Italian authors, and several new talents have been discovered through the hard work that’s been going on until late hours here in our meeting room...