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Have Books, Will Travel

Each year, major international book fairs occur in Frankfurt, London, Bologna, and Beijing. ForeWord is in each of those places to represent small presses from the United States that can’t afford the travel expenses or the time out of office. These companies trust us to make the initial contact with foreign rights agents on their behalf. Over the past fourteen years, I’ve come to learn that award-winning titles in any genre are of particular interest to our foreign agents and publishers, but that most of the attention is showered on health, business, body/mind/spirit and more recently, fiction titles. The ForeWord booth especially appeals to publishers from emerging markets who shy away from the high royalties associated with titles from larger, more established houses. At these shows, we chat with hundreds of foreign visitors who stop by our stand looking for information about a book after reading an ad or review in ForeWord Reviews.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair this past October, I bumped into a Russian friend who has been trying to create a ForeWord-like publishing journal. She suggested that ForeWord‘s Small Press Collective might be a welcome addition to Moscow’s “non/fiction” Book Fair, held there each December. She has been a fan of ForeWord since we met nearly a decade ago, and after being booth neighbors with the Russian Pavilion as Guest of Honor at this past Spring’s London Book Fair, I’m guessing she might be right about our opportunities there. Many of you know BRIC is the acrononym referring to Brazil, Russia, India, and China, all countries currently experiencing off-the-charts economic growth. My experience at rights shows this year absolutely confirms them as emerging publishing markets.

In fact, ForeWord‘s international readership is beginning to compete with our national audience of booksellers and librarians. We are now offering digital editions of the magazine at no charge through Zinio. Most importantly, our domestic audience of bookseller and librarian readers are encouraged to experience ForeWord via their computer screens, mobile phone, or tablets for the same price they’ve always paid: nothing.

This issue is the beginning of a new chapter for us: the Winter 2012 publication of ForeWord Reviews will be our first quarterly edition, designed to serve as a more robust sourcebook kept for reference in public places for three or more months. After fourteen years at this, I can unabashedly say, we rock reviews. And our goal continues to be making your experience discovering them one of the best possible. With that in mind, we’re putting our resources into providing more book reviews in a larger edition for you to savor in your favorite format.

We keep a Google Doc at the office for staff to track industry numbers that “wow” us. One recent post reminds us that in 2010, traditional publishers released 316,480 new titles and non-traditional (POD or ebook) publishers, 2,776,260. Books issued by indie presses barely reached 60,000 titles when we started highlighting some of our favorites back in 1998. But one salient point remains: when it comes to good books at home or abroad, the contents have to tell a great story, well-written, in whatever package. You will continue to find some of the best noted in our pages, whether they appear on paper or on a cloud.

Victoria Sutherland

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