Welcome new Publisher Member: Bitingduck Press. Located in Altadena, California, Bitingduck Press specializes in books by, for, and about science and scientists. From middle grade to young adult to college level and adult, if it has a science theme that appeals to us, they’re interested.
As Ken Blanchard says, “The world is in desperate need of a new leadership role model.” PubWest member Berrett-Koehler Publishers is organizing and co-hosting the SERVANT LEADERSHIP ONLINE TRAINING SUMMIT with Ken Blanchard and Conscious Marketer. For ten days starting October 17, they will broadcast talks from 40 thoughts leaders such as Tony Robbins, Liz Wiseman, Peter Block, Marshall Goldsmith Frances Hesselbein, and Jim Kouzes (22 hours of training videos) about the transforming power of servant leadership at work, home, and in communities. Attendance is free, which includes over 30 bonus gifts from the speakers.
Pasadena, California is the sunny, lovely host city for the 2015 PubWest Conference, our first Conference to take place during the winter months. Get away from the February gloom and get fired up about the 2015 publishing year. Join us!
Pasadena is a wonderful mid-size city tucked between Los Angeles and the stunning San Gabriel Mountains. Pasadena has it all, from world-class art (the Norton Simon, the Huntington, the Pacific Asia) to world-class smarts (Caltech, JPL, Art Center College of Design). Pasadena is home to the Rose Bowl, an incredible collection of Arts & Crafts architecture, two famous flea markets, and the historic Vroman’s Bookstore. That there are more restaurants per capita than any other U.S. city makes the nightlife sensational. Now consider the great hiking, shopping, and theater and you’ll understand why PubWest chose Pasadena to host its 2015 Conference!
The PubWest 2015 Conference theme is “Spread the Word.”
As we all are aware, getting the word out on any new publishing project is the key to success. From publishing new books, new titles in a series, or ebooks, it’s imperative to “Spread the Word.” For each and every conference offering—each keynote, each panel, each intensive session, and each event—spreading the word will be at the forefront.
It’s time to get away from daily office distractions and join publishing professionals from throughout North America for an incredible three-day book-publishing immersion program.
Whether you are a longtime publishing professional or new to book publishing, fresh ideas and information abound as our dynamic industry continues to evolve and as technology further advances. Publishers will gain critical insights for navigating and thriving in our industry as it experience monumental changes in print and electronic workflow.
[Editor’s Note: Former PubWest President Todd R. Berger has gone freelance and offers his thoughts on his move from America’s Southwest back to the Great Lakes—and from publisher to freelancer.]
At the Super 8 in Liberal, Kansas, the cotton-candy-pink-haired attendant checked me in with practiced efficiency, and I considered complimenting her on her hair, stopped myself, then complimented her anyway. She smiled and drew some squiggly lines on a place-mat map to show me where my room was. I paid ten bucks extra for doggy lodging in my room (I was accompanied by a sweet-eyed beagle named Abigail).
A step down from the La Fonda, I thought.
Walking out in back of the hotel, I discovered something notable, to me, anyway: black dirt and soft grass. Mind you, I’ve been living in various parts of Arizona for 11 years; black dirt and soft grass were remarkable.
It’s not the destination but the journey, some wise-ass once said and more than one lazy writer, including me, clichéd to death. Nevertheless, relaunching and finally naming my 17-year-old editorial services, writing, and book-packaging company, Mind Stuff House, was just the start of the journey. The projects that came my way were the soft grass and black dirt, as well as the pink hair, the UFO museum in New Mexico, and the stampede-induced dust storm in Texas. Unforeseen things seem to keep coming my way, and the best way to ride this wave is to embrace the unknown and let go of anxiety about the future.
It takes a fair amount of ego as well as a thick skin to branch out on your own—most start-ups fail, you know. However, I am prone to feeling sorry for myself and have a hypersensitive nature. This must mean I have a much greater chance of success—I don’t fit the entrepreneurial mold. PubWest is filled with publishers, editors, writers, printers, designers, and more who took a leap of faith and went out on their own.
And just look where that got them.
As a first step, my wife and I decided to move the business and ourselves to St. Paul, Minnesota, to allow us to raise our five-year-old son in Midwestern familiarity. I’d build my business and sniff around for publishing jobs, and my wife would teach Pilates or dance.
To get things rolling, I needed to drive a car from Tucson to St. Paul, and deliver said beagle and the vehicle. Alone. Something I had never done before.
The trip unfolded much like my newly named business did—slowly, with long detours, failed experiments, and minor tech problems. But along the way, some glorious surprises dappled the trip, including the first time our beagle had set foot on black dirt and soft grass in Liberal, a memorable sunrise over the Kansas prairie, and buying roasted and dried Posada chiles at a roadside stand in New Mexico from a Hispanic man who smiled at me broadly. I even loved Iowa (nothing personal to anyone from the Hawkeye State), which looked like an emeraldy landscape freckled with adorable churches and farmhouses. The Iowa state trooper who pulled me over for speeding and a burnt-out headlight was even nice: he let me off with a warning.
Projects have trickled in, sometimes from completely unexpected places. Others I’ve worked my butt off to get. Whether it is selling audio rights, writing marketing copy, negotiating contracts, copyediting, substantive editing, or just writing the damn book myself, work has materialized. Mind Stuff House may well be the next big thing in publishing!
Or it will fizzle out and go nowhere, and we’ll have to live under an overpass. Do I have the temperament for fickle projects coming in here and there? Don’t know. I have to think about my family, too, as all three of us like to eat, and we have some impressive debts. But you can choose to worry about the future, or you can choose to act in ways that may well affect the future positively. You never know who’s going to be your sugar daddy. So don’t be surprised if I reach out to you about freelance work, as, in addition to making a living, I want to give back to members of this organization that has done so much for publishing entrepreneurs in the West.
And don’t be shy about reaching out to me, as I just may be able to help.
Todd R. Berger is a freelance editor, writer, and book packager based in St. Paul, Minnesota. He can be reached at (520) 331-5817 or ToddRBerger@gmail.com.
Individual Members are welcome to submit a brief overview of their skills and work experience along with the positions they are seeking. PubWest will post their Job Seekers profile on pubwest.org and run their profile in one of the association’s weekly News & Events newsletters, which reaches thousands of publishing professionals.
Last year, PubWest made a bold move to shift our annual conference from November to February. There were lots of powerful reasons we did this. Sure, finances played a part in it, but we were primarily motivated by the opportunity to move away from the crazy September-October-November schedules most publishing houses find themselves in, especially those who have distributor meetings taking place during that time. So, when Tools of Change was discontinued and February opened up, we grabbed it — and are planning to make it ours. The PubWest Conference and February will become synonymous. The same great conference you (and everyone else) loved, now in February, and often somewhere warm!
But what about the rest of the year?
Between Frankfurt, London, BEA, regional trade shows, distributor conferences, and the craziness surrounding end-of-year sales, we found little time available for PubWest to better serve members. But–look! Smack in the middle of the year, we saw June just sitting there, ripe for an education program. It’s early in the summer, the calm “eye of the hurricane” that is the publishing year. By June, the winter and spring trade shows have ended, and it’s not quite time to ramp up for the fall meetings and book launches. You, the boss, should see this as a great time to invest in your staff. And the PubWest PUB501 Summer Sessions are the perfect opportunity to do that.
Well, it’s a chance to elevate your staff’s understanding of one another. While you may be off and running from one trade show to the next or meeting with the big distributors or chain store buyers, your staff has been sitting at their desks most of the year, doing the same thing over and over again…
Sure the marketing person knows where the editor sits, and maybe the finance department enjoys their control over the money that will be spent on this year’s catalogs, but do they understand what the other people in the office really do?
What decisions do they make that have an effect on the book’s outcome?
Does the designer realize that the photographer has a fixed-rate contract for the book, and that might affect how many images this book should have?
Does accounting know how much four-color artwork really costs, and what effect a black and white catalog will have on sales?
Marketing knows editing is an important part of the process, but do they really understand editing — and why it seems to take so long?
Send them to PUB501, an opportunity to learn each other’s skills and decisions. They’ve been working in their own little fiefdom for a few years, they need a better understanding of what the other departments have to accomplish.
PUB501 isn’t going to create cover designers out of your marketing personnel, nor an editor from your acquisitions team, but they will come home with a much greater appreciation for what happens in the process of making a successful book. They should come back to the office and be more in tune with each other’s jobs, more appreciative of the decisions made by others, and more willing to work with one another on future projects.
In other words, they will produce better (and better selling!) books.
PUB501 will be June 19-20 in Denver and June 26-27 in Portland. Each city will share the same course, just on different dates, drawing from the experienced PubWest volunteers who also produce each PubWest Conference. Split up your employees and send some to Colorado, the rest to Oregon. Use PUB501 to create a better team.
AAUP 2014: Open to Debate June 22-24, 2014 New Orleans Marriott
Registration is now open for the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP). Join us in New Orleans this June 22-24 for “Open to Debate,” a full program of professional education and networking events.
Four pre-meeting (June 22) workshops are geared to anyone engaged in publishing and scholarly communications work.
“Publishing Open and Affordable Textbooks” is designed as a project-based learning exercise for university presses and libraries interested in new strategies for publishing course materials;
“Let’s Get Analytical: Measuring Your Marketing” features strategy and metrics expert Daniel Lemin to help attendees understand and apply the lessons of their marketing analytics;
“Advice for Ebook Complexities and Quality Control” takes on some of the most frustrating complications of EPUB files—bring a laptop to try out new techniques;
“Journals Now: Challenges and Opportunities” will offer an overview of the state of journals publishing and expectations for the future.
The general meeting officially starts on the evening of June 22 with receptions and an opening banquet featuring local author and playwright John Biguenet.
The 2014 Program Committee, chaired by Alisa Plant (LSU Press), developed the meeting sessions on June 23 and 24 around the theme of “Open to Debate” to explore the possibilities brought on by a renewed sense of inclusivity and collaboration. AAUP 2014 will continue the ongoing, evolving dialogue about scholarly publishing by engaging in a vigorous discussion about our future, not only with other university presses but also with libraries, booksellers, campus administrators, and media outlets.
Concurrent sessions and plenaries and will cover general themes and publishing essentials on the following topics in scholarly publishing, such as:
Open Access: What are new OA models? What’s the global state of OA? How do you measure OA success?
Libraries: What do they need from publishers? What publishing projects are they spearheading? What are issues of common concern?
Reaching Your Audience: How do you track your marketing efforts? How do you effectively reach students and scholars? How do you work with distributors and independent booksellers?
Workflow and Management: What are the latest technological efficiencies? How to manage staff, interns, and departmental transitions? How do you develop your publishing program?
Networking breakfasts and roundtables provide journals staff, editorial staff, smaller presses, and other interest groups the opportunity to share advice and experiences. And attendees can also visit with companies in the exhibit hall offering the latest publishing technologies and services.
AAUP registration fees are among the lowest in the publishing industry, with flexible commuter options and nonprofit and library rates available.
What hasn’t changed is exciting, too: we still offer great benefits to members, and one of the BEST is the Peer-to-Peer Membership Offer.
I’d love to see our membership grow like never before this year. It seems to me that given the continuing monumental changes in the industry, PubWest has the mandate to substantially increase the networking opportunities we’re known for.
If each PubWest Publisher member could invite one publisher—not now a member, and not previously a member—to join PubWest for one year at no cost, we’ll be busting at our metaphorical seams. Let’s get as many voices involved as possible. Let’s make the PUB501 Summer Sessions and the 2015 PubWest Conference the best-attended ever. Let’s make the publisher phone-in roundtables the talk of the industry. Let’s add more diversity to our membership to include more publishers of fiction, nonfiction, narrative, illustrated books, children’s books, value-added ebooks, and niche-market titles.
If you need more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Kent Watson. Otherwise, onward and upward!
Vice President of the PubWest Board of Directors
by David Shapiro, President of Craigmore Creations
In which Shapiro travels from the Willamette Valley to the Grand Canyon to take the pulse of independent bookselling and draw attention to books from the new publishing house Craigmore Creations.
He finds is a thriving culture of reading in the West and small towns that love books and their independent bookstores.
The Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley of Oregon is a land of long, rainy winters. While this does little to help out with the winter tan, it does lend itself to many days of reading. There are bookstores aplenty to help fill that space on your reading shelf.
Portland is home to Powell’s Books, the Mecca of Northwest bookstores and is the bookstore that book-lover’s dream about. It has so many books and a wonderful café, that it is not uncommon to make a night or an entire afternoon out of a visit to the store. And now, brace yourself, they are renovating and making improvements to the store, so in the future it will be even better.
While Portland has an incredible amount of used and new bookstores, two in particular stand out. Annie Bloom’s and Books on Broadway are both quality stores with great staff, a nice store layout, and a good selection of books for readers of all ages. These stores do not have a café attached, so the shopping experience is a more traditional affair. However, this is Portland and there are plenty of places to get your coffee after you have purchased your new book, and then you can sit down and read it!
Corvallis is a picturesque brick-building town in the middle of the Willamette Valley, south of Portland. It is home to the Oregon State University, its team the Beavers, and about 55,000 people. This is a nice town that is often overlooked on people’s itinerary of Oregon. Which is too bad, Corvallis has a few very nice bookstores and a good selection of places to eat any meal of the day. Grass Roots Books and Music is a very cozy store that, as the name implies, combines the best of both worlds, catering to the bibliophile as well as the music enthusiast. The brick and wood interior is very inviting, as is the staff. The Book Bin is another must see bookstore in Corvallis, with a sister store in the state capitol of Salem; both Book Bins are larger stores and both had a healthy number of mid-day shoppers the Tuesday that I visited.
Eugene, at the head of the Willamette Valley, is home to the most impressive used bookstore in the state. The Smith Family Bookstore is a veritable maze of books piled in so many ways as to make finding what you want a challenge.
However, it seemed to me that one does not go to Smith’s to find what they want to read, but to find what they did not know they wanted to read, but now can’t fathom having done without. There is also a bronze statue commemorating Ken Kesey, poised reading a book to a varied group of listeners. As an author who was very much influenced by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest this statue was an inspiration to see.
The University of Oregon has the Duck Store, which has a very impressive collection of books for both the academically and pop culture oriented. They are among a handful of university bookstores I have visited and are an outstanding example of their kind. The campus itself is also very pleasant to walk around as you admire the old trees and brick buildings.
Idaho: Grasslands, Potatoes, and Mountains
Leaving Oregon, I am only going to briefly focus on Idaho. The town of Moscow is a hidden gem of a retreat located where the rolling grasslands of the Palouse Prairie meet the first rise of the Bitterroot Mountains. It is home to the University of Idaho and it has a modest population of around 24,000 people. I visited in conjunction with Book People of Moscow who put me in contact with the elementary school librarian who coordinated my visit to the local elementary schools.
Book People’s downtown store is spacious, well stocked, and a very inviting place to browse on a snowy winter’s day. The town itself is home to many artists and musicians and you can tell that they like to read. The bookstore is locally very well known.
Walla Walla is another small picturesque brick-building university town of the west in a region that is rapidly gaining recognition for the wine grown in the surrounding hills. Walla Walla, Washington is also a fun town name to say. Walla Walla is home to the innovative store called Book & Game which has a wonderful selection of books in well organized displays making searching for titles easy for both parents and children. The thoughtfully curated toy selection coupled with the fun selection of gift ideas, makes this store a fun all ages experience. The fact that the store is centrally located on a downtown corner in one of those picturesque brick buildings makes shopping here all the more enticing.
Another Washington locale, Auntie’s Bookstore in downtown Spokane has existed as an independent since 1978 and proud of the fact. Their Main Street location is a very attractive store with a great layout and ample selection. The aisles were bustling with mid-day shoppers when I visited, though since then, I have noticed that they will be closing their smaller location at Riverpark Square. Which is too bad, because that was a nice store too, but their flagship store, will still continue to be “Spokane’s literary landmark.” Spokane is also home to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, which has a very nice, albeit small, bookstore specializing in books, related to the exhibits in the museum.
Truly a Reader’s Town: Missoula, Montana
Missoula will forever hold a place in my heart. It was the first city of the West that I lived. The university population adds to the overall reader base of this town of 68,000 people. Fact and Fiction has a great location in downtown, catching the eyes of the many tourists who visit in the summer and is a favorite spot for locals to purchase books in the winter. I did a book signing in the summer of 2011 and the staff was very helpful. They also run the University of Montana bookstore.
The Book Exchange hosts more than 11,000 square feet of knowledge, adventure, mystery, romance, and more. Located on the outskirts of town, this store has good parking. The inside is well kept, the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable and the shop was full of customers during my midweek daytime visit. Missoula is truly a readers’ town with ample parks to find a place in the shade during the summer months and plenty of cafes to read away the winter’s cold all with beautiful scenery to rest the eyes when not looking at a page.
The Desert Southwest
Now, I’ll flip-flop regions and cross over to the Southwest US. New Mexico is known for its outstanding natural beauty and diversity of outdoor activities, but it also has a wonderful array of bookstores. Santa Fe’s Collected Works bookstore is a great example of an independent café/bookstore that goes the extra mile to make the customers feel at home. There are comfortable, fireside chairs that one can sit in and read the day away. The selection of this store is not outstanding, but the carefully picked inventory will be sure to offer something enticing for readers of all ages.
Albuquerque is a city of readers. I would not have known this had I not visited the city on numerous occasions, but it’s true. Albuquerque loves their books. Alamosa Books is a quality children’s bookstore that will be expanding to capture audiences in all their age ranges. The current location is a great mix of gift items and books in a spacious, clutter free setting. The staff is friendly and when I did a reading at the store, they were very helpful and accommodating.
Bookworks is a cozy independent bookstore blessed with a great location for the weekend shopper. They are right next to a very popular breakfast/lunch café. The interior is attractive with a central fireplace that is used in the display of the great variety of titles for sale. The staff is very friendly and I am looking forward to working with them again in the future in collaboration with two local elementary schools.
A Warm Town with Warm People: Tucson, Arizona
Maybe it’s because I’ve been living in the soggy Northwest for so long, but an October trip to Tucson is something to be savored. When there, Antigone Books is a must-see. This local independent has achieved cult-like status over the years. This is the type of bookstore that made bookstores cool. Their website advertises that the store is 100% solar powered. They have also recently celebrated 40 years of business. Not only do they have a great selection, but they have mastered the store layout to be both spacious, cozy, inviting, and full of books. This is the type of bookstore that when you exit, you want to proclaim to the world, “Long live print!”
Going north, Tempe, Arizona is home to Changing Hands Bookstore. This store combines a very robust book selection with a large café, making a visit to Changing Hands worthy of an entire afternoon. The store has a very well organized children’s section and it seemed to me that during my mid-week visit many of the patrons were mothers with children. As a publisher of children’s books, this was a good sign. The store is very clean, well organized, and run by helpful, knowledgeable people.
Gateway to the Grand Canyon
I will end my truncated tour of the Southwest with Flagstaff, Arizona. “Flag,” as the locals affectionately call it, is the gateway to the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately Flagstaff is a small town that is dominated by Barnes and Noble. That being said, I was able to get Craigmore Creations books into one of the outdoor gear shops that also had a small selection of books. Never underestimate the power of the specialty market! Starrlight Books is a very cool used bookstore and I would not have mentioned them, save for the fact that it’s places like this that one finds the coolest books. Outside of Flag is the Museum of Northern Arizona, which has a fantastic selection of regional books. They have been very busy the few times I have been in there and their selection of children’s books is outstanding for a store with an educational focus.
The State of Affairs: Independent Bookstores Are Thriving
There are many stores I have not mentioned and there are many stores in these regions that I did not have occasion to visit. After all the miles I put on cars and my shoes, I can say that the state of affairs of independent bookstores looks good. My visits were almost entirely during the week, and not just that but during the day even. Each of the stores that I mentioned had shoppers who were both browsing and purchasing books. From all outward appearances, it would seem that the independent bookstore trade is still a thriving business. The intrinsic value that a well-run independent bookstore adds to a community is beyond calculation.
David R. Shapiro is the founder of Craigmore Creations. Entrepreneur, entertainer and naturalist, David earned his BA in Natural History and Creative Writing from Prescott College. His work experience includes tracking rare carnivores for the USFS, guiding children through a mythic theater naturalist learning camp, and acting as a liaison for large scale art and music festival production. As an author David has been inspired by the imagination of his two children. David lives in Portland, but travels often to be a part of the rest of the world. Shapiro blogs at Craigmore Creations.
Foreword Reviews, the only review magazine solely dedicated to discovering new indie books, announced the finalists for its 16th Annual Book of the Year Awards today. Each year, Foreword shines a light on a small group of indie authors and publishers whose groundbreaking work stands out from the crowd. Foreword’s awards are more than just a shiny sticker on the front of a book; they help connect the best indie books to readers eager to discover new stories written by previously unknown authors.
In the next two months, a panel of over 100 librarians and booksellers will determine the winners of these prestigious awards. A celebration of the winners will take place during the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas on Friday, June 27 at 6 p.m. with awards in over 60 categories, cash prizes for the best in fiction and nonfiction, and widespread recognition.