It’s been a heck of a few years, but not all has been doom and gloom. In the publishing world, app integration and open source tools have allowed aspiring publishers to not only fulfill their dreams but operate entirely out of the shadow of the world’s largest online retailer, which single-handedly destroyed the book marketplace decades ago.

Aqua Fox Press, launched in a very small fashion in 2016, and rolling out larger in January 2022, is just one of the latest author-ran ultra-small presses to get in the game. Its first catalog offerings are novels by its founder Benjamin Obler, who published with Penguin UK long ago, and would rather put out his finished works on his own terms than wait for an unlikely breakthrough in a publishing climate that has other prerogatives than his own.

AFP editorial intern Gayle S. puts the finishing touches on a book.

“We were thrilled to have found,” says Obler in his home office somewhere between Poughkeepsie and Detroit. “It was founded by the guy who did Redhat, I’m told. I don’t know what that means, but the integration technology to our WordPress site was brilliant, and their documentation is robust, and most importantly the books look great. They also offer global distribution. All of that, and it doesn’t smell of space billionaire impropriety as our earth lays scorched, inflation soars, and income inequality, etc.”

CEO types, one reporter noted, are getting more eccentric every year.

“I guess you could say that the blessing of the pandemic was that I worked with clients publishing in Kindle Direct Publishing. And while KDP filled a valuable need in the marketplace at one time, and was a legitimate leader in the technologies for a while, their vibe is far too apocalyptic. Lulu, on the other hand, gets it. They get that makers ought to be able to reach their audiences directly.”

Hats off to Aqua Fox Press, and here’s to more quality literature made possible by the brilliant people who code the apps. Further shout-outs to Adobe, Calibre, and Canva. Time to get the intern Lloyd (the twin brother of last year’s, sadly now deceased intern, Floyd) in here to sprinkle in the hashtags.