Salt Publishing is in trouble again, and has renewed its "just one book" campaign; I’ll be buying a book or two to support it, as its back catalogue is excellent and I'd hate to see it all disappear. But I don’t feel hopeful. Salt has always been stridently pro-market and has enthusiastically embraced the corporate model; but asking people to invest in your business as an altruistic act requires something different; a writers' / readers' cooperative perhaps, or even just a supporter / subscriber arrangement like the one Reality Street uses.
I hope Salt survives, but I believe that the corporate model they’ve adopted doesn't work for poetry; accountants don't like it, which is why OUP jettisoned its poetry list. The publishing of contemporary poetry is not viable without subsidy, whether it be public or private. As a business, you produce products that people want (or can be persuaded to want) or you go bust; you need products that sell in bulk, and since the end of the UK’s Net Book Agreement (whereby book prices were fixed, enabling publishers to subsidize work that sold in small quantities), there’s been no place for poetry (and much else) in commercial publishing. How long would Bloodaxe and Carcanet survive if their public funding was removed? Not long.
As our millionaire rulers roll back public spending and the Big Society has us all working longer hours for less pay and fewer rights, Salt won't be the only poetry publisher to suffer. Maybe the only publishers left will be self-funded micro-publishers. In the UK brewing industry craft-beer is now almost exclusively produced by micro breweries. In a sense, that means the big boys have won, but at least you CAN still buy craft-brewed beer. The same might happen in the poetry world. We can only hope that the micro-publishers keep poetry-publishing alive until (if?) times get better.