A publisher of dissident voices.

—David Richter,Book Culture

About Us

OR Books is a new type of publishing company. It embraces progressive change in politics, culture and the way we do business.

Our list is highly selective: we publish just one or two books a month, combining established authors with new discoveries.

Our editorial standards are fastidious; our design clear and elegant.


We employ exciting promotion with highly creative use of video and the Internet.

To avoid the waste of unsold stock and returns, we produce our books only when they are wanted, as print-on-demand and as platform-agnostic e-books.

This system allows a rapid publishing turnaround so relevant books can intervene quickly in issues of the day.

Most importantly, we sell direct to you, the customer, shipping promptly when a book is released and/or your order is received.

Our approach jettisons the inefficiencies of conventional publishing to better serve readers, writers and the environment.

It points to a new future for book publishing.

We hope you will join with us.

Who we are

OR Books was founded by John Oakes and Colin Robinson in 2009.

Colin Robinson, publisher. Robinson worked as a senior editor at Scribner and was previously managing director of Verso Books and publisher of The New Press. Among the authors he has published are Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Mike Davis, Norman Finkelstein, Eduardo Galeano, Eric Hobsbawm, Lewis Lapham, Mike Marqusee, Rigoberta Menchú, Matt Taibbi and Jann Wenner. He has written for publications including The New York Times, The London Review of Books, The Sunday Times (London) and The Guardian (London),and has appeared on broadcast media including NPR (“On the Media”), CNN, MSNBC, CBC and CSPN.

John Oakes, editor-at-large. Oakes co-founded the book publisher Four Walls Eight Windows, which was purchased by the Avalon Publishing Group. Among the authors he has published are Andrei Codrescu, Sue Coe, R. Crumb, Cory Doctorow, Andrea Dworkin, Abbie Hoffman, Gordon Lish, Harvey Pekar, Rudy Rucker, John Waters and Edmund White. Oakes is a former board member of PEN America. He has written for the Associated Press, the International Herald Tribune, and the Review of Contemporary Fiction. He is publisher of The Evergreen Review and the author of The Fast: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Promise of Doing Without (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster).

“OR Books has firmly established itself as the go-to source for titles that challenge the status quo and suggest options for moving beyond our current ruts.” —Ben Terrall, CounterPunch

“A great, exciting project!” —Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

“Over the last five years, Oakes and co-founder Colin Robinson have turned OR into one of the most original publishers in the Us.” —Jonathon Sturgeon, Flavorwire

“... how imaginative and creative the New York-based independent publishing house, OR Books, has become since its foundation in 2009.” –Matthew d’Ancona, Tortoise Media

Launching OR

From Publishers Lunch, May 31, 2009 | Photo © 2009 Miriam Berkley

In a voyage abundant in metaphors (and blessed with sunshine) publishing veterans John Oakes and Colin Robinson literally launched their new venture OR Books on an old fireboat from a pier eight blocks south of the Javits center on Sunday afternoon. The boat chugged leisurely around the south end of Manhattan, past the Statue of Liberty and right past the giant Queen Mary 2 in Red Hook. From a megaphone on the top deck they hailed their “politically progressive and culturally adventurous” content paired with a “revolutionary approach to business.”

In other words, they aim to sell non-returnable only and print only on-demand (or not at all via e-books). And they pledge to spend the money saved on inventory on marketing instead. Oakes said they want to “affirm the partnership between publishers and authors.” Robinson added that a publisher’s “first obligation is to find readers for the books they’re publishing” and commented, “we know the existing system doesn’t work. We’re going to try something new.” Oakes added, “If the boat goes down, there goes the future of publishing.”

The OR Space

OR Books’ office is located at the rear of the Francis Kite Club, a bar and event space on Avenue C in the East Village, New York City. OR hosts regular events in the space and livestreams many of them. Find out what’s coming up here.

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