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Book festival features local publishers

Anne Knowles

Northern Nevada never may be a

threat to New York’s hegemony in the

world of publishing, yet the region has

an interesting enclave of publishers.

The local scene comprises a handful

of eclectic publishers, from children

book and newspaper publisher Juniper

Creek Publishing to Black Rock Press,

part of the state university system and

publisher of fine art limited editions and

other commercial books.

Most of the region’s publishers will be

exhibiting at the sixth annual Great

Basin Book Festival this week at various

locations in Reno, including an all-day

event at Wingfield Park on Saturday.

University of Nevada Press, in Reno,

will be there with several new titles,

including “Playa Works: The Myth of

the Empty,” a non-fiction book on dry

lake beds by William L. Fox, and

“Between Grass and Sky:Where I Live

and Work,” a book of personal essays on

ranching by Linda M. Hasselstrom. It

also will be sponsoring an event on western

women writers, featuring

Hasselstrom and other local authors, on

Wednesday at the McKinley Arts and

Culture Center.

The press was founded in 1961 by

popular Nevada author Robert Laxalt.

(The press has available about 10 Laxalt

books, including a paperback version of

his second book, “A Man in the Wheat

Field,” that it will publish this fall.) The

press is a not-for-profit and reports to

the chancellor of the university system.

Its mission, said Ron Latimer, director,

“is to publish scholarly works of merit

and regional books on Nevada, the Great

Basin and the west.”

The press publishes about 25 books a

year, according to Latimer, under several

series, including ones on Basque fiction

forprofit

and part of the state university

system. “We are not that different than

the university press but our focus is more

expanded,” said Bob Blesse, director. By

that Blesse means Black Rock, established

in 1965, publishes all types of

books, not only ones of regional interest.

But it only releases two to three books

a year. That’s because it publishes limited

editions that are difficult and time-consuming

to produce. At the

festival it will feature a new commercial

book, “Blood Sister, I Am to These

Fields,” a book of poetry by Linda Hussa.

Black Rock also teaches a UNR class

on book arts, which covers typography,

bookbinding, paper decoration and

other aspects of old-style book printing.

It also has three 19th century hand

presses that use handset type and several

rare books, including one on the history

of Roman popes and kings printed

in 1478. Both the books and the presses

are open to the public.

In the for-profit world – albeit small

profit, if they’re lucky – are a handful of

local publishers that produce everything

from a childrens’ newspaper to

greeting cards.

Juniper Creek was founded by Ellen

Hopkins and Virginia Castleman, two

children’s books authors, as a way to

publish books on regional topics that

other publishers passed on. But before

they knew it, the pair was producing

Three Leaping Frogs, a semimonthly

newspaper geared to kids in third

through sixth grades. Its sponsored by

Greater Nevada Credit Union, Sundance

Books, Mogul Mouse ski shop and others,

which pays for its $2,500 printing

and design costs. Still, “it’s a labor of

love,” said Hopkins.

The newspaper is distributed for free

to schools in most northern Nevada

counties. Since its inception, the

newspaper has doubled in size and distribution.

“We started sending it to Ely

and hope to push into rural counties,”

said Hopkins.

Juniper Creek also hopes to take the

newspaper monthly and to follow up its

success with a second newspaper –

Tadpole Tales – targeted at kindergarten

through second grade.

In the meantime, Juniper Creek will

be showing at the festival its first book,

the upcoming “All For Our Country,

Check Out Nevada,” a 48-page non-fiction

book on Nevada for children aged

eight to 12. From that, the publisher

plans to spin out separate books based

on each of the book’s chapters, such as a

book on women in Nevada. Then

Juniper Creek hopes to print a book

featuring the photography of Laura Read

that it plans to market to schools,

libraries and museums, and another

book on Nevada prehistory for middlegrade

students.

PJW Publishing will be at the festival

with a line of greeting cards created from

family photographs and writings of the

press’ owner, Pat West. “When my sister

battled cancer 13 years ago I needed to

develop something else, a line of cards

when ‘get well’ isn’t enough,” said West.

Her line of cards are called “In other

words” and are direct marketed to hospital

gift shops and boutique stores, as well

as featured at the American Cancer

Society’s biggest local fundraising event,

Relay for Life. Next,West plans to market

the cards at an industry trade show

in January and into airport gift stores.

West, who says product sales have so

far covered her publishing costs, also

produces a series of five real estate

brochures for Century 21 Clark

Properties in Minden.

Another project closer to her heart is

a series of so-called chap books – small

chapter books consisting of about 38

pages – that she hopes to start publishing

in a year. The books will be based on

memoirs written by Carson Valley residents

through a writing course at

Western Nevada Community College.

The Great Basin Book Festival runs

Wednesday through Saturday and features

a keynote speech by Ernest

Gaines, author of “A Lesson Before

Dying,” the book chosen by Read

Washoe Read program and the subject

of reading group events all over the city

this month.