VSL// A self-published book phenomenon goes wide

Publishers used to be the gatekeepers of the reading world. But books like Anthropology of an American Girl, a sparkling, self-published debut novel by Hilary Thayer Hamann, which is now getting re-released after seven years of success, points to signs of change.

Hamann’s semiautobiographical coming-of-age novel follows the quirky Eveline Auerbach as she moves through high school in the ’70s and into early adult life in Manhattan during the ’80s. Deciding to forgo the conventional publishing route, Hamann used the book to launch her very own Vernacular Press, which published the book in 2003. Four years later, “exhausted and over invested,” Hamann closed Vernacular, but the underground success of Anthropology won it a new home at Spiegel & Grau (a division of Random House), who have re-edited it and will publish it on May 25. They’re probably hoping for this well-crafted and beautifully written story to become a classic, though in a sense it already has.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here. VSL// A self-published book phenomenon goes wide