OR Books

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OR Books
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Founded 2009
Founder John Oakes and Colin Robinson
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location New York City, New York
Publication types Books
Official website www.orbooks.com

OR Books is a New York-based independent publishing house founded by two veterans of the publishing industry, John Oakes and Colin Robinson, in 2009.[1] The company, a "digital upstart",[2] claims to offer a revolutionary approach to publishing by printing on demand, selling directly to the customer, and focusing on creative promotion through traditional media and the Internet. OR generally does not sell its books through stores or wholesalers: it "sells directly to customers who order from the OR Books website, eliminating unsold inventory, doing away with deep discounts to retailers, and sharing more of the profit with authors. Customers may order print copies or digital versions; OR Books prints and delivers copies only when they are ordered."[3]

On its site, OR Books states that it "embraces progressive change in politics, culture and the way we do business." By selling directly to the reader, and avoiding large discount chains, it says substantial resources are made available for marketing and promotion. "At OR Books, our calculation is that, for the amount of money we would have to give Amazon, we can do a better job finding customers ourselves. We know who our audience is, we share their interests, we visit the same websites and read the same writers," wrote company co-founder Robinson.[4] Elsewhere, Oakes has said: "People call OR a 'radical alternative' or an 'experiment,' but in many ways we're a throwback: we advocate a process wherein the publisher focuses on developing ideas into workable manuscripts, carefully editing them, and, above all, devoting substantial resources to marketing the finished product."[5]

OR Books is best known for publishing Going Rouge: Sarah Palin, An American Nightmare, a parody of the Sarah Palin biography, which went on to become a New York Times Best Seller in 2009. Since then the company has published books by Julian Assange, Elissa Shevinsky, Moustafa Bayoumi, Medea Benjamin, Sue Coe, Simon Critchley, Lisa Dierbeck, Norman Finkelstein, Laura Flanders, Chris Lehmann, Gordon Lish, Bill McKibben, Eileen Myles, Yoko Ono, Douglas Rushkoff, Jeanne Thornton, Barney Rosset, and others.


According to OR's website, John Oakes co-founded the publishing company Four Walls Eight Windows. When his company was purchased by the Avalon Publishing Group, he became publisher of Thunder's Mouth Press, co-publisher of Nation Books, and vice president of Avalon. Colin Robinson, a former senior editor at Scribner, was previously managing director of Verso Books and publisher of The New Press.

Joint ventures[edit]

In September 2010, OR Books announced a partnership with a writers' collective known as Mischief & Mayhem, whose members include Dale Peck, Lisa Dierbeck, Joshua Furst, DW Gibson, and Choire Sicha.[6]

In what the industry newsblog Shelf Awareness termed a "very significant...move," St. Mark’s Bookshop and OR Books announced a joint venture to enable the store’s customers to buy select books on OR’s list from the bookstore’s website.[7][8]

In April 2016, OR Books acquired UK publishing company Serif, following the death in 2015 of its founder Stephen Hayward, a former associate of Robinson's.[9][10][11][12]


  1. ^ Crain's New York Business on the founding of OR Books
  2. ^ Jim Milliot and PW Staff, "What's Ahead in 2011", Publishers Weekly, January 3, 2011.
  3. ^ "Oakes ’83 connects readers directly to a publisher", Princeton Alumni Weekly, March 2, 2011.
  4. ^ Colin Robinson, "Bedtime for Bezos: OR Books Says 'Thanks, But No Thanks' to Amazon", Huffington Post, May 22, 2010.
  5. ^ John Oakes, "Pain and its Alleviation" (from Hugh McGuire and Brian O'Leary, eds, Book: A Futurist's Manifesto, O'Reilly Media, 2012), Pressbooks.
  6. ^ Leon Neyfakh, "Dale Peck, Choire Sicha and Friends Start a Book Publishing Collective; First Title Out Next Month", New York Observer, September 10, 2010.
  7. ^ "St. Mark's/OR Alliance", Shelf Awareness.
  8. ^ Teicher, Craig Morgan (December 7, 2010). "OR Books Partners with St. Mark's Bookshop for E-Book Distribution". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Press Release: New York-Based OR Books Acquires Serif Books", BookBusiness, April 11, 2016.
  10. ^ "Welcome to OR Books".
  11. ^ Calvin Reid, "OR Books Acquires U.K.'s Serif Books", Publishers Weekly, April 14, 2016.
  12. ^ "OR Books Acquires Serif Books", Shelf Awareness, April 15, 2016.

External links[edit]