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DIRECTOR’S DESK – It’s Always Exciting

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So many times, I’m asked how can I still get excited and stay so positive about this industry after working in it for 25 years, and it’s difficult to put into just a few words. But the excitement remains.

Perhaps it’s because I keep seeing so many great new titles. Just the other day, a book appeared on my desk that instantly brought a smile. It was entitled Please, Send Me to My Room. Now, what parent or other adult caring for a child hasn’t wished to hear that at some time? I remember the first time I worked with books from Parenting Press in Seattle, WA. One after another, the titles sold those books and made you want to pick them up. My favorite from the wonderful imagination of Parenting Press’s publisher, Betsy Crary, is Pick Up Your Socks!

Another title that intrigued me–and evidently lots of others, since it’s still in print more than 15 years after it was published–is Mary Ann Kohl’s Scribble Cookies from Bright Ring Publishing in Bellevue, WA. The first time I saw that book was at a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Show when I had the good fortune to have a booth right next door to Mary Ann’s. The show was lightly attended that year, and as always happens when you have a slow show, you get to know the people in your immediate area really well. A rapport developed between me and Mary Ann, which still exists. She has gone on to write and publish many, many more books, but my favorite is still Scribble Cookies. And if you want to know what they are, as I did when I first read the title, well, you’ll have to ask Mary Ann, just as I did, and listen to her effervescent explanation.

Another title that appealed to me immediately was Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: P.S. It’s All Small Stuff, which was published by Bob Alberti at Impact Publishers in San Luis Obispo, CA. Others obviously liked it too, because when it went out of print, a major house snatched the title and created a book that made it onto the New York Times bestseller list.

The Independents’ Energy

When I’m interviewed, I always explain to the reporters that the independent press always has the first books out on any subject, and independent publishers will be the only publishers who keep on publishing and selling books on that subject after the fads have come and gone. We had the first books out on AIDS, for example, from Dr. Alan Cantwell of Aries Rising Press in Los Angeles and several other publishers. Then a major house came out with Boys in the Band, which reached bestseller status. But where’s Boys in the Band today? Dr. Cantwell is still doing new editions of those first books and continues to publish books on AIDS.

I look at each and every book that comes into our office, and many times I abandon my plan for the day when I pick books up off the shelves, return to my desk, sit there, and just read them–until suddenly I look at the clock and see that’s it’s 4:30 or 5:00, and then I wonder where the day went.

When the end of this month comes and it’s almost time to walk through the aisles at BEA and get that boost of energy that comes every year from our members’ titles and from our members, who transfuse the energy they feel about their books into my veins, I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world.

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