Breaking News
Home » New West Network Topics » Books & Writers » “Reading the West” Gets the Word Out About Regional Books
A few weeks ago I wrote about some creative ideas people are coming up with to support books in the midst of this changing media landscape. In keeping with that theme, the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association recently launched the Reading the West program, with the goal of helping bookstores promote books that are set in the West or those written by Western authors. The first featured books are New Mexico writer Rick Collignon's Madewell Brown and Austin-based Jaqueline Kelly's The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. I spoke to MPIBA executive director Lisa Knudsen this week on the phone from her office in Fort Collins about the program. Knudsen said that the MPIBA started the Reading the West program because "in these troubled economic times, we were looking for projects and programs that are free to our member booksellers and are a potential win win win—for the publisher, bookseller, and author." "I shamelessly copied from my fellow regional bookseller associations," Knudsen said, noting that the Midwest and Great Lakes Bookseller associations sponsor similar programs. The Reading the West program makes advance copies of the featured books available to booksellers, as well as materials to use in their display and promotion. The authors are also available for readings at regional stores. The MPIBA board hopes publishers will begin to send them information about relevant forthcoming books to be considered for the program, but for the first selections, the members discussed among themselves what good books of regional interest they knew were coming out. "Rick Collignon is very popular in our region," Knudsen said, "and the committee was enthusiastic about his latest book. We also wanted to do what we could to promote independent publishers." Madewell Brown is published by Unbridled Books, an independent publisher based in Colorado.

“Reading the West” Gets the Word Out About Regional Books

A few weeks ago I wrote about some creative ideas people are coming up with to support books in the midst of this changing media landscape. In keeping with that theme, the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association recently launched the Reading the West program, with the goal of helping bookstores promote books that are set in the West or those written by Western authors. The first featured books are New Mexico writer Rick Collignon’s Madewell Brown and Austin-based Jaqueline Kelly’s The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. I spoke to MPIBA executive director Lisa Knudsen this week on the phone from her office in Fort Collins about the program.

Knudsen said that the MPIBA started the Reading the West program because “in these troubled economic times, we were looking for projects and programs that are free to our member booksellers and are a potential win win win—for the publisher, bookseller, and author.”

“I shamelessly copied from my fellow regional bookseller associations,” Knudsen said, noting that the Midwest and Great Lakes Bookseller associations sponsor similar programs. The Reading the West program makes advance copies of the featured books available to booksellers, as well as materials to use in their display and promotion. The authors are also available for readings at regional stores.

The MPIBA board hopes publishers will begin to send them information about relevant forthcoming books to be considered for the program, but for the first selections, the members discussed among themselves what good books of regional interest they knew were coming out.

“Rick Collignon is very popular in our region,” Knudsen said, “and the committee was enthusiastic about his latest book. We also wanted to do what we could to promote independent publishers.” Madewell Brown is published by Unbridled Books, an independent publisher based in Colorado.

As for The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, published by Henry Holt, the committee enjoyed the book and it had “a beautifully done cover.” Knudsen said that after the selection was announced, Jaqueline Kelly sent “a really cute email. She said it’s really hot down here in Austin and that she’s looking forward to visiting bookstores in the region in places that are not quite so hot.”

The guidelines for the Reading the West program are flexible at the moment. They will try to feature independent publishers as often as possible, but the most important consideration will be that “they are really excellent books.” Knudsen said they may select new books every month, or they may space selections more widely.

“One of the things that drives a lot of booksellers crazy,” she said, “is that so many books are published, good ones along with dreck, and in the frenetic pace of publishing, new titles are forced off the shelves after six weeks to make room for the next ones. We don’t want to be a part of that frenzy, so if we feel that the books need more than four weeks to get the word out, we’ll feature them for a longer time.” Knudsen believes the next selection will be announced in August.

The demise of the Rocky Mountain News took out one of the major print book review sections in this region, and Knudsen says, “of course there are all kinds of blogs, but not everyone who reads books wants to read about them online. This program will help people like that. The booksellers appreciate that the people selecting the books are from this region, and the store displays as well as the mentions of the featured books in the booksellers’ websites and e-newsletters will help the public find good books to read.”

Speaking of regional booksellers, Sam Weller of Sam Weller’s Zion Bookstore in Salt Lake City died last week at the age of 88. Kathy Stephenson of The Salt Lake Tribune described Weller as a ” larger-than-life presence,” and a former employee, Betsy Burton, who now owns The King’s English Bookshop said, “I’ve never known anyone better with a customers. He would do anything for a customer.”

Please {encode=”jenny@newwest.net” title=”email me”} if you have any regional book news or events to share.

About Jenny Shank

Check Also

Greg Gianforte Charged With Misdemeanor Assault

Montana’s GOP House candidate Greg Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault after attacking a ...