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The Do-Not Press logo

The Do-Not Press logo designed by Kirk Teasdale

Welcome to the official website of The Do-Not Press. The Do-Not Press was an independent publishing company, founded in London in 1994, by former music promoter and writer, Jim Driver. The first title was Rock Talk, published on 31st October 1994 and its last came out on 25th June, 2004. All in all, The Do-Not Press published over 100 titles over those ten years, mainly in the categories of cutting edge Mystery Fiction, Music and Erotica. This website is partly the archive of the original website, including title and author pages, and partly a Creative Writing resource.

Aside from archiving almost every article on the original websites, we hope to show you how to become a writer, by means of articles and videos such as Writing a Book and How to Publish a Book. Jim Driver’s aim when starting The Do-Not Press was to showcase exciting and innovative writing. He certainly managed that. The Do-Not Press published work by writers as diverse as Ken Bruen and Mick Farren, Maxim Jakubowski and Carol Anne Davis. Their non-fiction included a tasteful and iconic coffee-table book about strippers in East London and personalised biographies of Ike Turner and Gene Vincent. The motto was “Fiercely Independent Publishing”. Here is a rare web banner from 1999:

Fiercely Independent Publishing bannerThis is intended to serve as an overview of The Do-Not Press. A more detailed guide to The Early Years can be read by clicking the link. The Do-Not Press never had a runaway bestseller. It came close three times. One was the first book by British comedian and writer Mark Steel. The title of It’s Not A Runner Bean comes from when the leftwing Steel was heckled at a “corporate” event in 1987. As Mark told The Independent‘s James Rampton a decade later:

its_not_a_runner-2004One bloke came up and threw a runner bean at me. I lost it a bit and said to him, ‘That’s why people like you are hugely rich and nurses are paid nothing, because you enjoy throwing runner beans at people’. He replied, ‘It’s not a runner bean, it’s a mange tout.’

The second was a lavish and expensively-printed book about the culture of the last remaining strip pubs in the Shoreditch area of East London, called Baby Oil and Ice. This quickly sold out of its first printing of 2,000 and would have been reprinted if the bank account had held anything like the £10,000 needed to pay the printer. The third ‘almost bestseller’ was Judas Pig, a roman a clef written by a former London gang-member who used the pen-name “Horace Silver”. This came at the tail-end of the imprint’s life and its success could be summed up as “too little, too late”.

a dysfunctional success book coverSo, why did The Do-Not Press come to an end? It was simple matter of economics. Although it was lauded as a “ground-breaking” independent publisher, the critical acclaim never really translated itself into sales. Publisher Jim Driver says: “The decider for me was probably (Wreckless) Eric Goulden’s rather wonderful and extremely quirky autobiography, A Dysfunctional Success, which was chosen for a promotion in all Waterstones bookshops over the Christmas of 2003. This meant it would be stacked high on tables at the front of every one of their bookshops. This meant getting lots of expensive little hardback books printed.

“A few thousand copies of the book went out and almost the same number came back. I think we sold around 1,200 copies, which hardly paid for the printing, never mind all the transport and distribution costs. This was after a massive amount of press and radio.” Concludes Driver: “I knew if we couldn’t make money out of that book, chances were we couldn’t make money out of anything…”

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At the bottom of this page is the last front page of The Do-Not Press website, first posted in 2004.

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