“Prince’s drummer—name drop there—his name is Michael Bland. He was talking to me one time on tour, and I was telling him a story about something, and he was like: ‘Oh, he was giving you chin music?’ It’s like, what? What are you talking about? And he was like, ‘It’s when someone gives you attitude. They give you that chin music.’”
— Nick Jonas, as quoted in Flaunt magazine
Chin Music Press is a curiously bibliophilic indie publisher located deep in the recesses of Seattle's historic Pike Place Market. For 18 years, we've been creating beautiful, engaging, and affordable books on a wide range of quirky and eclectic topics.
Open Thursday through Monday from 11am to 5pm or by appointment.
Chin Music Press is based in the traditional territory of the Coast Salish People, the Duwamish (dxwdəwʔabš), in land that touches the shared ancestral waters of the Suquamish (dxwsəq̓wəb), Tulalip (dxwliləp), and Muckleshoot (bǝqǝlšuɫ) Nations. We honor the people past, present, and future who belong to this place.
Bruce Rutledge and Yuko Enomoto founded Chin Music Press in 2002 while living in Tokyo. At the time, media conglomerates were swallowing up publishing companies, greatly reducing the opportunities for risky books to get into print. The time was ripe for small presses to fill the gap, especially with contemporary and edgy literature from Japan.
"Chin Music" is a play on Mark Twain's phrase describing a preacher's sweet way of talking, and a baseball term for a high pitch that backs a batter away from the plate. With that in mind, our books would not only be risky, they would be beautiful. Designers Craig Mod and Josh Powell employed Japanese aesthetics to create "literary objects" - books that are a pleasure to touch as well as read. NPR describes them as "a triumphant kick in the pants for anyone who doubts the future of paper-and-ink books."
After the levees broke in New Orleans, David Rutledge, a professor at the University of New Orleans, spearheaded Chin Music's effort to publish one of the first books about those early days. The success of that book, Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?, led us to create our critically acclaimed imprint Broken Levee Books.
Well into our second decade, we, like all small presses, are trying to nimbly keep up with the pandemic, supply-chain issues, inflation, recession, bookstore closures, and the rise of digital books. Social networking has become increasingly important in publishing. Throughout all these changes we remain dedicated to our vision of that sweet chin music.