As I said, I've been talking with other litmag editors who have experience with DeBoer, either currently or in the past. The first thing I learned was that everyone seems to know about Faye's unusual business practices. I wish someone had told me before I signed the contract with her. My colleagues' attitudes ranged from extreme chagrin at Faye's dishonesty, to a resigned willingness to put up with the way she operates. A lot of them feel sorry for her. (I don't.) Some have refused to put up with it, and stopped using DeBoer. I also found out that she pays some publishers, sometimes. It wasn't clear what the secret is, but her favorite journal is McSweeney's. She says she can't get enough of it, so I would guess that they get paid (but I don't know for sure). A couple of editors said she sent them checks after they had badgered her--one by barraging her with phone calls, and another by showing up at her warehouse in Jersey.
The one theme that ran through all of these conversations, though, was that, while Ingram can put literary magazines into the big chains, only DeBoer can get them on the shelves of the independent bookstores. I find that hard to believe. Over and over again I heard them say that they liked to walk into a bookstore someplace and see their journal on the shelf. Well, I like that, too, and I think there must be some other way to accomplish it besides dealing with DeBoer. I agree with the editor who said, "I guess it's an issue of integrity, and Faye doesn't really have any." I may be crazy, but I don't think she should be rewarded for her behavior, and I'm not going to do it any more.
One of my colleagues suggested that I talk with three distributors: Ubiquity (Brooklyn), Small Changes (Seattle), and Armadillo (CA). I had talked with Joe Massey at Ubiquity before, but his terms looked a lot better to me after my experience with DeBoer. I called him again, and now have a contract with Ubiquity to distribute 95 copies of upstreet 3. Joe told me up front that he would only carry upstreet if he was free to give the magazine away to the booksellers. The first term on the Ubiquity contract is: “(1) Ubiquity Distributors will not be charged for copies of upstreet journal supplied to it by the publisher.” The contract goes on to say that if upstreet sells 50 copies or more of each issue regularly, the journal will go on a pay-for-copy basis, and I’ll receive 45% of the cover price for the copies that sell. I am quitting DeBoer and going with Ubiquity because Joe’s contract reflects the situation honestly, and Faye’s doesn’t. She pretends she’s going to do one thing, and then does something else. I've sent sample copies to Small Changes and Armadillo, and will be following up with them soon. I've also sent a sample to Disticor, a Canadian distributor recommended by Joe Massey.
This morning I got an email from a Business Manager at Source Interlink, asking for two sample copies of upstreet. She said it could take 30 days before I know whether they're going to take the journal, because they have to go through a review process and then negotiate a distribution agreement if it's approved. After that, she said, they would solicit orders from the chains. Chains? Quickly, I went to their website. Source Interlink distributes to Waldenbooks, Follett's, B. Dalton, Borders, and Barnes & Noble. This is a very, very long shot, but I never expected them to even consider upstreet. Ingram won't.
Source Interlink will receive its two copies tomorrow, by Express Mail. Keep your fingers crossed, upstreet fans.