Independent publishers are producing literature, Chris Fischbach writes in the Virginia Quarterly Review, which is not the same thing as what commercial publishers are printing. Fischbach (a publisher at Coffee House Press) goes on to explain a duality similar to that of Chad Harbach’s MFA vs NYC—if there are two competing writing identities, one is premised on earning money while the other focuses on artistic expression:
Literature is not the same thing as publishing. Publishing is ever-nostalgic for a mythic golden age, one that existed before the so-called death of print, the Amazon factor, the rise of self-publishing, and the supposed decline of reading. Literature, as it is read and written, is indifferent.
Independent presses tend to be smaller, meaning they have more flexibility to take on innovative projects. This results in a growing body of untraditional content and allows for greater literary influence.