Everything about chapbooks originally mystified me. Aren't they just small books or . . . large pamphlets? And why are they called chapbooks?
Yes, chapbooks are small books, but they are so much more. These small, inexpensive books may contain poems, stories, tales, or essays. Chapbooks generally have a tightly focused topic; they are intended to make a point. They are both a literary form and an art form, and often these two thing combine to present an argument, take a stand, try an experiment, stage a protest, explore something new, start a revolution. Maybe chapbooks aren't that small after all.
Then there's practicality. As small books, chapbooks can go anywhere. Tuck them inside your bag or backpack. Take them everywhere. Sitting outside eating lunch? Standing in line at the post office? Waiting for your dentist to call you in for your appointment? Pull out a chapbook. Read a poem or two. Look at some artwork. Dig into a short story. Then fold it or roll it and stuff it back in your bag. Because they're small, chapbooks are often a way for the writer, artist, and publisher to take a risk . . . try something different, experiement with unique literary forms, interesting topics, combinations of word and image, and distinctive and original layout and design. Interesting content, attractive design, small enough to take anywhere and read anytime . . . mystery solved.
We've just released our first chapbook in our new series—Spring Leaves Chapbook Series. Writer Gail Tyson has the honor of having written the first . . . it contains three tales inspired by Vermeer.
That word chapbook...peddlar's book...
Perhaps you have an idea for a chapbook? We'd love to hear about it. Please take a look at our submission guidelines.