June 22, 2016
Three Colorado professionals hatch a big plan for publishing in the West
by Kait Howard
Dismayed at what they see as a lack of book publishing activity in a city known for being well-read, a group of Denver-based publishing professionals has founded an organization to promote their industry in the Rocky Mountain and desert West region.
Publishers Weekly’s Anisse Gross reports that Derek Lawrence, Fred Ramsey, and Caleb J. Seeling have banded together to launch the Colophon Center, a nonprofit foundation aimed at expanding publishing in the region by providing “co-working space” for publishing companies and professionals; hosting events, exhibits, and seminars; spearheading an internship program; and publishing reprints of books by local authors; among other activities.
Lawrence, owner of the independent book sales and marketing firm Corvus/Imprint Group, told Gross that he’d hashed out the idea for the Center with Ramsey, co-owner and co-publisher of Unbridled Books, and Seeling, owner of Conundrum Press and Samizdat Creative, two years ago, when the three found themselves bemoaning “an ongoing loss of publishing jobs” in Colorado.
Gross summarizes the thinking behind the plan for the Center:
Despite the fact that Denver is currently one of America’s fastest-growing cities, and that Colorado boasts one of the country’s lowest unemployment rates, publishing opportunities are still sparse. The founders hope the Center will be able to address this issue in Colorado, and its surrounding Western regions. The focus, they said, will be on making Denver a center for publishing.
While the Center is still awaiting its nonprofit status from the IRS and has yet to find a space in Denver, its founders cite enthusiasm from Tattered Cover Book Store, and interest from a number of “agents, publishing companies and book designers” in sharing office space with them. Lawrence said they hoped to “encourage companies to expand to Denver”—noting that Shambhala Publications’ move from Boston to Boulder just last year was one encouraging sign the the region was ripe for growth.
The trio behind the Colophon Center has outlined a large range of initiatives, but the primary goal of encouraging the development of book publishing—as opposed to supporting literary culture more generally—makes the endeavor unique. The industry is seriously concentrated in New York, so it’s refreshing to see any effort, however small, to think about how publishers might thrive elsewhere. It’s something that tends to go overlooked in discussions about the privilege that’s endemic to the industry. Lack of proximity to NYC, or the financial means to get there (sometimes just to work unpaid internships), is another hurdle keeping some talented young people out of publishing, and it’s worth asking whether that could ever change.
Kait Howard is a publicist at Melville House.