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Top 10 of 2011: AK Press Distribution

Posted on December 28th, 2011 in AK Distribution, Recommended Reading

Last week we gave you this year’s Top 10 bestselling new titles from AK Press publishing; this week we’re back with our Distro Top 10: our bestselling new titles this year from our distributed indie publishers. It’s been a great year and, as you can see below, there have been some excellent new releases. If you have missed any, now’s the perfect time to take another look!

The Top 10 AK Press Distribution Titles of 2011 are:

1. 2012 Slingshot Organizers [Slingshot Collective]
The Slingshot Organizer pretty much always tops our distro bestsellers list, and for good reason: they’re practical, they’re cheap, and they’re fun. They have more personality than your iCal could ever dream of. Available in a rainbow of colors, and two sizes: the pocket organizer and the spiral-bound desk planner. Don’t have your new calendar or organizer yet? Get yours now, and get organized!

2. What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower: Being An Adventure Of Your Own Choosing [Margaret Killjoy / Combustion Books]
Remember those “choose-your-own-adventure” books you read when you were a kid? Well, here’s the politically-charged grown-up version, full of goblins and gnomes and vice, from the author of our own Mythmakers and Lawbreakers: Anarchist Writers on Fiction. It’s awesome—and if you don’t believe us, maybe you’ll believe Cory Doctorow’s BoingBoing review!

3. Work: Capitalism. Economics. Resistance. [CrimethInc.]
This latest arrival from CrimethInc. takes on not just work itself but also the larger forces of capitalist economy that make it possible (and seemingly necessary) for most people to work our whole lives with nothing to show for it. If you’re familiar with CrimethInc.’s other popular books—Days of War, Nights of Love; Recipes for Disaster; and Expect Resistance—some of this will seem like familiar territory, but with its particularly timely focus on dismantling capitalism (and thus work as we know it),  it goes in some interesting directions.

4. The Listener: Memory, Lies, Art, Power [David Lester / Arbeiter Ring Publishing]
From the author of The Gruesome Acts of Capitalism (which is also great!) comes this compelling graphic novel that tells a startling story of Germany in 1933, interwoven with scenes from the life of a modern-day artist. Paul Buhle says, “Speaking as a reviewer of comic art since 1970 and historian of comic art, in some way, for the last thirty years, I can say that no one has captured better this dilemma of the politically-inspired artist.” That’s pretty high praise, eh? See what others have said, and then check it out for yourself.

5. Fair Game: A Strategy Guide for Racial Justice Communications in the Obama Era [Praxis Media Productions / Praxis Project]
A new workbook-style guide from some of the same folks who were involved with our own Talking the Walk: A Communications Guide for Racial Justice! Introduced at the US Social Forum, and now updated and available to the general public. This guide is designed to help its readers navigate new political waters, explore proven strategies, and consider long-term strategy. There’s lots to chew on here, for anyone committed to racial justice.

6. SteamPunk Magazine: The First Years, Issues #1–7 [Ed. Margaret Killjoy & C. Allegra Hawksmoor / Combustion Books]
A recent arrival, but this one was such a big hit at the holidays that it’s already a bestseller! This anthology collects all published issues (so far!) of SteamPunk Magazine, including plenty of fiction and artwork as well as pieces on music, fashion, politics, history, and mad science. Over 400 large-format pages of awesome steampunkery at a very reasonable price!

7. Grammar Matters: The Social Significance of How We Use Language [Jila Ghomeshi / Arbeiter Ring Publishing]
We’ve all heard self-appointed “language police” bemoan today’s sloppiness, imprecision, and a general disregard for the rules of grammar and speech. For sure, we at AK are sometimes guilty of being sticklers for proper grammar (it kind of comes with the territory). But this book is a valuable counterpoint, demonstrating what the insistence on “proper” use of language reveals about power, authority, and social prejudices. Listen to this radio appearance by the author to hear more about the book… and then get a copy for yourself or your favorite grammar nerd.

8. Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh [Anne Elizabeth Moore / Microcosm Publishing]
A USA Today reviewer called this “the best travel book I read all year.” Anne Elizabeth Moore (also author of the excellent Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity) brings her experience in the American cultural underground to Cambodia, where she teaches young women to make zines and in the process learns more than she’d bargained for about women’s rights, globalization, the failures of democracy, and justice.

9. Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination [David Graeber / Minor Compositions]
From the author of our own excellent collection, Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire (and one of the most articulate voices coming out of the Occupy movement—check out this recent piece!) comes a timely new book of essays explores the political imagination. Capitalism as we know it is over. In our current political landscape, where can we find signs of hope and possibility? How can we come together to create a new language, a new strategy, a new set of expectations?

10. Art Gangs: Protest & Counterculture in New York City [Alan W. Moore / Autonomedia]
An important new contribution to the study of art history, from an art historian who knows what he’s talking about. From the Art Workers Coalition through Art & Language, Colab and Group Material in the 1980s, in Soho and the Lower East Side, the collectives described in this book built the postmodern art world, and in many ways laid the foundation for today’s radical art collectives. This is the essential background story of the politicized international art world.

Honorable Mention: Debt: The First 5,000 Years [David Graeber / Melville House]
Even though this one isn’t exclusively distributed to the book trade by AK Press (as all of the above titles are), and even though it’s a giant $32 hardcover, it still made our bestseller list. Why? Because it’s just that good. Do yourself a favor and read it. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it could not have come out at a better moment in history. Check out the New York Times review!

It’s also worth noting here that there were a whole bunch of great new titles released near the end of the year that didn’t make it onto this list just because they didn’t have time to become bestsellers YET—but they’re still worth checking out! Among the year-end bestsellers: Practicing Feminist Mothering (Fiona Joy Green / Arbeiter Ring Publishing); Against Equality: Don’t Ask to Fight Their Wars (Ed. Ryan Conrad / Against Equality Press); Communization and its Discontents (Ed. Benjamin Noys / Minor Compostions); and many more! New titles arrive every week… Why not sign up for our e-mail list to make sure you hear about them?