ForeWord Reviews

great books independent voices

Fifteen Years of Paper, Ink, and Passion

Publisher’s Profile: Tres Femmes Affirmed

It’s our fifteenth anniversary issue and, feeling nostalgic, I tracked down the two women who helped me dream up ForeWord to share their memories of our beginnings. Mardi Jo Link and Anne Stanton brought the “literary” to our review publication in the early days, while I managed the sales and business side of things. Beautiful writers with exceedingly high standards, they set ForeWord on an unwavering path, and I think about them nearly every day.

Victoria Sutherland Image In our Afterword (page 112), Mardi, who has a memoir due out this month (her third published book since leaving ForeWord in 2003), speaks to those “salad days” of “changing the world, one book review at a time.” Anne, who went on to co-found the prestigious National Writers Series based in Traverse City, Michigan, and is back to investigative journalism, explains the budding of our partnership in Front Matter (page 10).

The media scene we entered as a trio in 1998 is now wildly different from anything we imagined. I surely don’t miss keying in new databases on a slower-than-molasses computer, making sales calls to dead-end lines without voice mail, or waiting for phone lines to free up so that we could fax an insertion order, but the question remains: With websites, print-on-demand, Google searches, social media, blogs, and Amazon reviews—is a print book review journal still necessary?

The current team at ForeWord votes an emphatic YES!, and here’s why: we love great books and want to share them in a beautiful magazine. We believe we have survived two recessions and a dot-com bubble burst because readers want to hold a literary review journal, carry a compendium of notable prepublication books, feel quality paper, see lots of white space around book covers and metadata, deliberate over historical works from treasured university presses, and compare children’s picture book spreads in vibrant four color. We have a web and mobile version of ForeWord available, of course, but I’m betting we will always have the print version available as our calling card. Physical products still matter.

15 Years ImageAs one of the judges for the literary fiction category of our annual Book of the Year awards program, I download many of the finalists onto my e-reader to accommodate a busy travel schedule. Recently, I ran out of juice two-thirds of the way through a recent title, and it was a reminder that, however convenient, with an e-book you aren’t privy to some of the wonderful “distractions” of reading—like appreciating the cover art every time you pick up the book, or testimonials on the back jacket to validate your strong positive feelings about the book in your hands, or flipping to the back pages to remind yourself who the author is after you read a particularly marvelous passage.

Last night I finished the hard copy of a book I believe will receive the Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction. It’s a debut novel from a smaller indie press. And, it wasn’t lost on me that the publisher chose to nurture a new voice, edited and packaged well on quality paper. Such things make a difference.