Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 26, 2024

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.


Grand Opening Set for Glendora Bookshop in Buchanan, Mich.

Glendora Bookshop will celebrate its official grand opening and ribbon cutting at 110 E. Front Street in Buchanan, Mich., on April 27, Independent Bookstore Day. Moody on the Market reported that the small, general-interest bookstore carries a variety of literary and genre fiction, nonfiction, along with books for children and young adults. Beginning in May, the shop will offer book groups, used book buy-backs for store credit, and a loyalty program for frequent shoppers.

Glendora Bookshop has been open since last December, but owner Carla Mayer scheduled the official grand opening to correspond with IBD and the first day of the Michigan Book Hop.

Mayer said that she has been overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm the store has received so far: "I had hoped that making a place to gather and find books in downtown Buchanan would be a welcome addition, but I just wasn't sure. Understanding that others were hungry for such a place, too, has been a wonderful surprise!"

She wants the bookshop to "become a hub and an indispensable resource for the community, a place neighbors and destination-visitors, as well as organizations and businesses, can rely on and feel welcome," Moody on the Market noted.

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The Collective Bookstore Expands with Narnia-themed Children's Room

The Collective Bookstore, Verona, N.J., will host a grand-opening celebration on April 27, Independent Bookstore Day, for the shop's expansion into a new dedicated children's room designed to immerse young readers into the magical world of Narnia. 

Upon entering the children's section through a wardrobe, guests find themselves embarking on a journey starting at the iconic lamp post from Narnia, surrounded by a winter-themed setting that gradually thaws into spring. This design aims to engage visitors by bringing the beloved classic to life, the bookstore noted.

"Our vision for the Collective has always been to create a unique space that rekindles the joy and wonder of bookstores through such magical experiences," said co-owner Josh Jacobs. "With children's books making up about half of our sales, it was crucial for us to not only expand our collection beyond the titles we already offer but also to provide a venue for community events."

The new children's room will double as an event space and host a variety of activities, including weekly storytimes, book clubs, author visits, book signings, and more. 

Co-owner Lauren Jacobs added: "We are immensely grateful for the overwhelming support from our community. This expansion would not have been possible without their enthusiasm and commitment to supporting local businesses like ours."

Displaced Pages Debuts on IBD in Owensboro, Ky.

Displaced Pages, a new and used bookstore, will open April 27, Independent Bookstore Day, in T&T Vendors Mall at 601 Commerce Dr., Owensboro, Ky. The Owensboro Times reported that owner Virginia Hardesty "learned that Owensboro is a book-reading town after she started the Silent Book Club last year. Now, through her new business Displaced Pages, she wants to make buying books easier for residents."

"Independent bookstores [like mine] are going to be more personable. They are very into the community and being in your corner as far as inclusivity and diversity," she said, adding that she doesn't aim to replace large stores or the library, but to complement those spaces and allow a direct way for readers to find books they may not be able to elsewhere. In addition to the collection of new books available, the business will also have used books for sale.

Hardesty also said she plans to find ways to help people connect to the books they love as well as fellow book readers. "That's why I think bookstores and book clubs are very important," she noted. "There are so many people I've talked to that I had no idea they even read outside-of-school stuff. So it's good to get the word out and meet more people with your interests."

A Last Look at IBD Plans

More than 1,200 independent bookstores around the country are getting ready to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day tomorrow, April 27. Below is a last look at what some stores have planned.

The Chicagoland Bookstore Crawl is returning this year, with 46 bookstores in and around Chicago, Ill., taking part. Readers can collect their passports on Saturday and have one day to collect as many stamps as they can. Those who collect passport stamps from at least 10 stores will receive 10% off at all participating stores for an entire year, while those who make it to 15 stores will receive 15% off. Readers will also receive some bookstore swag when they turn in their passports with 10 or 15 stamps.


For the first time, bookstores on the Delmarva Peninsula are joining forces for the Eastern Shore Indies Passport. Customers can print out their passports at home and have until the end of the day Saturday to collect as many stamps as they can. For every passport stamp, customers will be entered into a raffle for one of three prize baskets containing books, accessories, and a $50 gift card to a participating store of the recipient's choice. The six stores are: Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Del.; Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach, Del.; Caprichos Books, in Ocean Pines, Md.; Sundial Books, on Chincoteague Island, Va.; the Buzzed Word in Ocean City, Md.; and the Book Drop in Selbyville, Del.


For the first time, 15 bookstores throughout northern Virginia, Frederick, Md., and Wardensville, W.Va., have partnered to launch the NoVa Bookstore Crawl Passport Program. Starting on Indie Bookstore Day, shoppers have until the end of May to collect as many stamps as they can. Four stamps will earn the recipient an ARC, eight will be worth a tote bag, and 10 will be enough for entry into the grand prize drawing, to be held on June 2.


For the second year in a row, indies around Washington's South Puget Sound are working together on the South Sound Book Crawl. From April 27 until May 5, indie bookstore customers can pick up a passport and visit as many of the 11 participating stores as they can. Customers who collect every stamp will earn a 20% discount on a single transaction at each of the 11 stores. The discount can be used once per store until April 25, 2025. Completed passports will also make the holder eligible for a grand prize swag bag.


Microcosm Publishing is rewarding customers who shop indie on April 27 with a prize drawing of Microcosm titles worth more than $230. All readers have to do is buy or special order a Microcosm title from a U.S. indie on Saturday and upload their receipt or proof of purchase to a Google form on the publisher's website by April 30. Winners will be contacted the following week.


In Nashville, Tenn., Parnassus Books has a day of festivities planned that includes appearances from artist Kate Lewis (The Secret Garden: An Illustrated Edition), author Andrew Maraniss (Beyond the Game: Lebron James), author Ariel Lawhon (The Frozen River), author and Parnassus bookseller Lindsay Lynch (Do Tell), and romance authors Sarah Adams (The Rule Books), Lauren Kung Jessen (Red String Theory), and Jenna Levine (My Roommate Is a Vampire). There will also be a morning storytime session with musicians Corook and Olivia Barton.


At Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minn., the IBD festivities will include an early morning storytime stretch and dance party, followed by photo ops, giveaways, a make-your-own shelftalker station, and a local author game show.

International Update: CIBA's New Online Directory; EIBF's 2024-2029 Manifesto

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day 2024 will be supported with a new online resource "that aims to bolster interest in indie bookstores on April 27--and throughout the year," Quill & Quire reported. was launched earlier this year by the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association to help readers find specific titles at their local bookstores. It also features a directory that allows users to look for indies near them and to filter the results by specific amenities, such as those with cafes or that sell CDs and records. 

CIBA started work on the project with market research in January 2023, using funding from the Support for Booksellers program of the Canada Book Fund, according to CIBA executive director Laura Carter. The idea for the site grew from the success of Bookmanager's Shop Local API.

"We quickly saw the value in creating a collective website that would serve this function and more--crucially [including] the directory and map of indie bookstores in Canada," Carter said, adding that CIBA hopes CIBD will have a more lasting impact thanks to the new resource. 

The annual campaign has grown each year since CIBA relaunched it in 2021. "Part of that is greater engagement across the board from our partners," Carter noted. "Publishers are doing more, they're creating swag and exclusives and contributing cash sponsorships, our bookseller membership is growing, and booksellers are seeing the impact of the campaign and getting more involved."

CIBA's initiatives for this year's CIBD include love notes from authors and a CIBA-led contest for readers, which encourages book lovers to buy books at indie bookstores on April 27 and submit details of their purchase online for a chance to win a gift card to their favorite indie.


The European and International Booksellers Federation has released its 2024-2029 Manifesto for the upcoming European legislative term. "In a time of growing political polarization and increased cultural censorship, we outline six priority topics that will steer our work for the booksellers we represent in the years to come," EIBF noted.

EIBF co-president Jean-Luc Treutenaere said, "Not only are bookshops local businesses that benefit the local economy, they are also cultural hubs and meeting points for people and ideas, simultaneously upholding the fundamental right to freedom of expression and fostering empathy and tolerance through books and stories."

The Manifesto's six priorities are:

  1. Standing up for freedom of expression
  2. Standing up for literacy
  3. Embracing digital technologies
  4. Embracing the green economy
  5. Maintaining freedom for small businesses
  6. Maintaining bookselling as a viable and desirable career path

"With these six priorities at the heart of our work, we continue tirelessly to amplify the voice of booksellers," EIBF noted, "so that bookshops all over the globe can keep doing what they do best: provide welcoming spaces where people meet, exchange and rejoice in our cultural diversity through stories and literature."


Catalonia leads the overall number of stores in Spain, according to figures from the Spanish Confederation of Guilds and Associations of Booksellers (CEGAL), but it has a ratio below the national average, Catalan News reported.

The Catalan Guild of Bookshops has 324 members and continues to gain new members (30% more than in 2008), with the majority located in the Barcelona area. The rate of bookshops in Catalonia is 5.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, which falls below the rate of 5.8 of Spain as a whole. It also falls behind other autonomous communities, including Madrid (5.7) and the Basque Country (6.1), but ahead of the Valencian region (4.9) and Andalusia (4.5).

CEGAL's figures show that Catalonia has more overall bookshops than any other territory in Spain, with 460, which represents 14.7% of all such stores in Spain, Catalan News wrote, noting that comparing the figures with those of the Catalan Guild shows that three in four bookshops are affiliated with the association. 

Catalan Guild president Eric del Arco said, "Sometimes I meet booksellers from all over Spain and they look at us with great envy." He added that Catalan bookstores have "a lot of character and professionalism," and the sector's "cultural role" stands out. --Robert Gray



Image of the Day: Midnight Release Parties for Funny Story

 More than 50 bookstores across the country hosted midnight release parties on Tuesday night for Funny Story by Emily Henry (Berkley). The group of fans who went to the Ripped Bodice, Brooklyn, N.Y., midnight party enjoyed games, prizes, a pop-up bar from the Buttery Bar, and an extra treat: Henry herself made a surprise appearance. Here Henry (in the dress) appears with delighted readers.

Cool Idea of the Day: IBD/IWD Bookseller Commission Bonuses

In the latest e-newsletter from East Bay Booksellers, Oakland, Calif., owner Brad Johnson wrote:

"This Saturday, April 27th, is Independent Bookstore Day! As has become our tradition, we're celebrating our booksellers with commission bonuses for purchases of their staff recommendations--in-store & online. The commission period begins Wednesday, April 24th and goes through May 1st. 

"Why May 1st? Because, as is also our tradition, we will be closed then in honor of International Workers' Day. Let's hear it for booksellers & workers all over."

IBD Bookshop Spirit Week: Fables Books

"It's book Character Dress-up Day! What book character are you?" Fables Books, Goshen, Ind., posted on Facebook. "Reminder: visit us today dressed up as a book character or tomorrow sporting Fables Books/Goshen pride for an entry into our #bookstorespiritweek drawing. Plus, join Kristin tonight at 9pm at @theelephantbargoshen for Book Trivia. If you can guess. who Kristin is dressed as during #TriviaNight, you'll get a special prize!"

Book Trailer of the Day: Through Fences

Through Fences by Frederick Luis Aldama, illustrated by Oscar Garza (Mad Creek Books/The Ohio State University Press).

Media and Movies

Movies: Blood Meridian

Three-time Oscar nominee writer John Logan will adapt Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian into a feature film for director John Hillcoat, Variety reported. Hillcoat is also producing along with Keith Redmon for New Regency. The author's son, John Francis McCarthy, will serve as executive producer, while Cormac McCarthy, who died in June 2023, is getting a posthumous executive producer credit.

"It's incredibly exciting to have John Logan on board," John Francis McCarthy said. "Very reassuring in the seemingly long list of good news concerning what was originally such an intimidating undertaking."

The project was originally set up with director James Franco and star Russell Crowe in 2016, but fell apart over rights to the book.

Logan's writing credits include Ridley Scott's Gladiator, Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd, and Sam Mendes's James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre. He earned a Tony award for his play Red in 2010.

"Blood Meridian has been one of my favorite novels since first reading it in 1985," Logan said. "It's a majestic, beautiful and uncompromising book and I'm thrilled to be able to help bring Cormac McCarthy's dark masterpiece to the screen."

Hillcoat added: "After years of dreaming and scheming about adapting this great work into a movie, after years of discussing adaptation ideas with Cormac, we are excited to have the writer John Logan weigh in with his passion and understanding of Cormac's sensibility, to help bring Blood Meridian the movie to fruition."

Books & Authors

Awards: Aspen Words Winner; Branford Boase Shortlist

Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad (Grove Press) has won the $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize, given by the Aspen Words program of the Aspen Institute to "a work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture."

The jury wrote: "In elegant, nuanced prose, Isabella Hammad tells the story of Sonia Nasir, a stage actress living in London who returns to her homeland of Palestine to visit her sister, Haneen, after many years away, and finds herself roped into a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. Exploring themes of diaspora, displacement and the search for identity, Hammad constructs a world rich in texture and emotion. A poignant narrative of resilience and the quest for belonging,  Enter Ghost  is a dazzling story of self-discovery against the backdrop of displacement."


A shortlist has been released for the 2024 Branford Boase Award, which is sponsored by Walker Books and presented to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. The prize also honors the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. 

The winner will be named July 10 at a ceremony in London. The winning author receives £1,000 (about $1,250), with author and editor each getting an inscribed plaque. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton; edited by Charlotte Hacking
The First Move by Jenny Ireland, edited by Ruth Knowles with Sara Jafari
Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan, edited by Eloise Wilson
Steady for This by Nathanael Lessore, edited by Ella Whiddett and Ruth Bennett
The Swifts by Beth Lincoln, illustrated by Claire Powell; edited by Ben Horslen and Julie Strauss-Gabel
You Think You Know Me by Ayaan Mohamud, edited by Sarah Stewart

Reading with... Jorell Meléndez-Badillo

photo: Aurora Santiago Ortiz

Jorell Meléndez-Badillo is a historian of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Latin America. His work focuses on the global circulation of radical ideas from the standpoint of working-class intellectual communities. Puerto Rico: A National History (Princeton University Press, April 2, 2024) is a panoramic history of Puerto Rico from pre-Columbian times to today. Princeton University Press has partnered with Planeta to co-publish a simultaneous Spanish-language edition, Puerto Rico: Historia de una nación.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

It is a vibrant history of how Puerto Ricans have created complex ideas of the nation in the face of more than five centuries of colonialism.

On your nightstand now:

At the top of a never-ending pile sits Roger Reeves's Dark Days: Fugitive Essays, Marta Aponte Alsina's Borinquen Field, Gary Goodman's The Last Bookseller, M.T. Vallarta's latest poetry collection, What You Refuse to Remember, and I'm saving some space for Golnar Nikpour's forthcoming book, The Incarcerated Modern: Prisons and Public Life in Iran.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I grew up with my grandparents in a house full of love but without many books. The only book I can recall seeing in my house was the Reina-Valera Bible. When I was coming of age, my grandparents bought a Cumbre encyclopedia, very popular in Latin America, in installments. I remember it vividly because I spent many hours looking at its glossy, full-colored pages.

Your top five authors:

José Luis González: The essay El país de los cuatro pisos marked a generation in Puerto Rico. When it was published, some of its ideas were controversial--and some still are. The essay also provided new ways of interpreting Puerto Rican history.

Emma Goldman: While people mostly know about Emma Goldman for her fiery oratory and radical pamphlets, her memoir Living My Life is an incredibly rich archive and narrative that brings together so many themes like migration, xenophobia, and gender discrimination at the turn of the 20th century.

Alexander Chee: I fell in love with Chee's work after reading How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. Now, every single time I see Chee's blurb in a book, I do not blink an eye and get the book.

Howard Zinn: A People's History of the United States was, without a doubt, deeply influential for me. When my now-teenage daughter was a child, I gave her my copy with a hand-written note of how important this book was for me. I hope that she gets to read it one day.

Luisa Capetillo: She's an early-20th-century self-taught, working-class intellectual, and while her writing is not what would be considered high literature, her modes of writing--against the current, for women's emancipation, and committed to transforming her reality--make her one of my biggest literary inspirations.

Book you've faked reading:

While I do not lie about this, I have never read the entirety of Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote, nor have I read the entirety of Homer's Odyssey or The Iliad.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Saidiya Hartman's Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments. While Hartman is well known in academic circles for her earlier work, as it forced scholars to grapple with the intimacies and ethics of our writing about the past, Wayward Lives is her tour de force. Another book that I need to mention is Michel-Rolph Trouillot's Silencing the Past, published in 1995 and still one of the most important books to think about history in the recent past. Perhaps its beauty is that it was not written by a historian, but an anthropologist.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Grant Snider's I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf. And to this day, it's one of my favorite comics. I am also a huge fan of books about books, reading, or libraries. So, if there's a book in the cover or the title, I am definitely adding it to my nightstand book pile.

Book you hid from your parents:

Because I grew up in a household where the only book you could find was the Bible, I became obsessed with the occult. My grandmother found--and threw away--books dealing with witchcraftAs a teenager, I also began reading literature about the need for Puerto Rico's independence. Since both of my grandparents believed that Puerto Rico should become part of the United States, they looked down upon this. And although my grandfather passed away, my grandmother still does not fully accept my political understandings of Puerto Rico.

Book that changed your life:

I remember to this day the moment I picked up Maximo Gorki's La Madre (The Mother) from the mall's Borders. I had taken a few Russian history classes in college, and the name must have struck a chord. It was, without a doubt, a life-altering reading. Much later I would find out that one of my top five authors, José Luis González, had the same experience. Another book that certainly changed my life was Octavia Butler's Kindred. I was not the same person when I finished the book.

Favorite line from a book:

"Los anarquistas creían.... Eran centauros: mitad razón, mitad impulso" (Anarchists believed.... They were centaurs: half reason, half impulse). --Cabezas de tormenta by the Uruguayan sociologist Christian Ferrer.

Five books you'll never part with:

There are many books that I've read and reread for teaching, research, or for pure pleasure. I also love that unexplainable and overpowering emotion of reading a book and then having a conversation with yourself through the notes you have left in the margins. Some of these books include La memoria rota by Arcadio Díaz Quiñones, Puerto Rico in the American Century by Rafael Bernabe and César Ayala, Antología del olvido by Eugenio Ballou, and Un país del porvenir: el afán de modernidad en Puerto Rico by Silvia Álvarez Curbelo. I recently read Joshua Bennett's Spoken Word: A Cultural History and loved it so much that I gave it away to a friend at a white elephant game. The next time I saw it on the shelves of my local bookstore I had to pick up, so I'll never part with it.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

One time when I was an undergraduate student, I became obsessed with the Uruguayan sociologist Carlos Rama. In a haul of all his books from my university library, I mistakenly took out La ciudad letrada (The Lettered City) by his brother, the literary critic Ángel Rama. When I first read it, I did not fully understand it but it did something to my thinking. Years later, I came back to it and reread it, this time making connections and refining my understanding of Latin America writ large. While I am sure I'll go back to La ciudad letrada again, I might be perpetually looking for that fix.

Book Review

Review: The Air They Breathe: A Pediatrician on the Frontlines of Climate Change

The Air They Breathe: A Pediatrician on the Frontlines of Climate Change by Debra Hendrickson (Simon & Schuster, $27.99 hardcover, 240p., 9781501197130, July 2, 2024)

In The Air They Breathe, pediatrician Debra Hendrickson writes, "climate change has a face, and it is a child's." Hendrickson recounts stories of patients whose health has been harmed by the long-term effects of climate change. In a somewhat radical step, Hendrickson forcefully argues that rapidly ceasing the use of fossil fuels, transitioning to renewable energy, and rethinking norms of everyday life in terms of how people commute, how they eat, and even how they design technology is paramount to keeping children healthier. She tracks the impacts on infant, child, and adolescent health, looking at respiratory health and susceptibility to an increased range of diseases, as well as being prone to suffer more acutely from extreme weather. Other impacts include negative consequences to their mental health, such as climate anxiety and an inability to consider a thriving future, and post-traumatic stress disorder from surviving climate disasters such as severe storms, fires, and floods.

The stories Hendrickson relates about the experiences of her child and teenage patients are eye-opening and heart-wrenching; she details a fear faced the world over as families contend with challenges that feel impossible in an environment where policy change moves more slowly than the need for it: "Children are bearing the weight, in their lungs and hearts and minds, of our madness." She makes clear that she is not saying anything new, citing more than a decade's worth of warnings by the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding climate threats to child health. Hendrickson draws critical attention to structural problems that make positive change more difficult, namely, the fossil fuel industry's efforts to bury science that connects them to these adverse effects. In the light of her experiences as a medical professional, she insists that the children are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine.

Most importantly, Hendrickson does not focus only on the negatives. She also highlights opportunities to build a better world for current and future children, making sure that there are paths forward for everyone. As Hendrickson says, "Surely our science will yield more than a chronicle of our end." The Air They Breathe is a necessary work for anyone looking to understand how climate action's long-term effects are even more expansive and vital to prioritize. --Michelle Anya Anjirbag, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A compelling argument for seriously addressing climate change as a global community--for the sake of the health of all children.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Agate Publishing Academy Is 'All About Building Sustainability'

Agate Publishing president and publisher Doug Seibold has launched Agate Publishing Academy, an online professional development program, produced and delivered by working professionals in the industry, for individuals seeking to forge successful careers in publishing. Currently, APA offers certifications in Publishing Basics, DEI Basics for Publishing Professionals, Instructional Design Basics, and Freelance Business Basics, with many more courses to be added over the course of 2024 and 2025.

APA courses range from self-paced, online-only offerings to programs that integrate consultations and interactive seminars with industry experts and opportunities to network with other aspiring and working publishing professionals. The APA credentials were developed to support aspirants who might otherwise lack the resources or connections to advance in the field.

Doug Seibold

Agate had previously developed a live, on-site version of the program to find and train more than 130 interns over the past dozen years, most of whom are now working publishing professionals across the country. APA is scaling up this program to make it more broadly available--and sustainable--by connecting students aspiring to publishing industry careers with small presses in search of interns and trainees. The Training Intern Network expands Agate's reach to college and university career centers across the country to solicit potential candidates.

In 2020 at Winter Institute in Baltimore, Seibold and I had a conversation about his vision for this initiative. Four years later, I asked him how the pandemic had changed his expectations and approach regarding on-site, hybrid, and online learning techniques.

"One thing the pandemic did is raise the stakes for us here at Agate regarding our existing intern training program, which became the foundation of our 'Publishing Basics' flagship course," he replied. "Suddenly, with everyone working remotely, we had to do everything online. Fortunately, we had a rough draft of 'Publishing Basics' in place; we began putting our interns through that, and then following up with a videoconference discussion."

He added that Agate's experiences "made me realize how we could safely and effectively incorporate them into the larger offering. That's really when the hybrid aspect of 'Publishing Basics' took shape. Agate already had plenty of experience with both on-site and online learning, but our figuring out how to intertwine them in hybrid fashion was definitely accelerated by our experiences in 2020."

Fast forward to 2024, and APA is up and running. "Our big focus right now is just making more people aware of it," Seibold noted. "Since we launched in late 2023, we've put two small beta cohorts through 'Publishing Basics,' which has helped us stress test the platform and delivery; so far things have unfolded very smoothly. We're now doing everything we can to reach out to different communities of potential learners."

This week he is at the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Publishing University in Denver, Colo., to talk about APA, and is about to launch a broader marketing campaign aimed at recent graduates and career changers interested in starting publishing careers. 

Reaction among the colleges he has reached out to has been "overwhelmingly positive," he said. "I think they appreciate how relatively few things like APA exist to help students in the humanities learn more about a field that many of them have always seen as an attractive professional destination. One of my key aims with APA is to make publishing less opaque to aspirants interested in the field, and to do it in a way that's more focused, more affordable, and more accessible than existing alternatives."

He described the feedback he has received thus far from small presses regarding participation as "cautious enthusiasm. A lot of these publishers have talked to me about their appreciation of how APA takes on some very glaring and intractable problems in the industry, both about training and developing younger staff and about diversifying the ranks of new industry entrants. The few presses that have taken part so far have been very positive."

Vicki DeArmon

One enthusiastic APA supporter is Sibylline Press publisher Vicki DeArmon. "We had talked about launching our own intern program but the Agate Publishing Academy provided the piece that's always missing from intern programs, namely context," she said. "Having been in business and worked with interns for nearly 35 years, I know that providing a background in how publishing works is difficult. It's a complex business. With that taken care of through the academy, we could simply assign work projects and give people real life experience in the business. We noticed that it elevated the work the interns were performing because they understood the pool in which they were swimming."

Sibylline has had two interns in the program and also sent one of its staffers who was looking for a greater understanding of the industry. "It was well worth the investment," DeArmon noted. "Will we do it again? Absolutely. For our small yet growing press, it's an ideal program."

When asked what a successful 2024 would look like for APA, Seibold observed: "As a longtime independent publisher, my aims in business are all about building sustainability. I don't have a specific target for enrollment or anything like that. I'd like to see the number of students we serve grow, and along the way get to a place where we can understand more clearly what the business might turn into, and what that might require of us staff-wise. 

"One reason the whole enterprise has evolved so slowly has been because many of us here at Agate have had to work on it at the same time we've been doing everything else necessary to keep the company going. Until the pandemic, it had always been a back-burner sort of project. It's really exciting to see it emerge as a full-fledged, functioning operation, at long last."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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