When Ross and I started this little venture of ours 3 years ago, it was with the vision that new “City-branded” book review publications would take off nationally. I can’t tell you how many people told us we were going about this all wrong — that we needed to create a single national brand. But that’s where we felt book review publications had gone off-track and why they’re diminishing around the country. Our theory was to create very niche and community-specific book review publications that not only allowed for local advertisers to tap into their community for business opportunities, but also to promote local authors and local book events.
Can’t do that on a national level, can you?
So, we started in Sacramento in 2008 and added San Francisco Book Review for the Bay Area a year later.
And then we waited…and marketed the concept….and waited some more.
We eventually had a couple of false starts with licensing the concept out, but we quickly rebounded, and then one of our longtime reviewers, Chris Johnson, approached us tentatively about starting Portland Book Review last December. I love to see the look on people’s faces when they suddenly realize how much work goes into managing 300 new books coming in a week + a whole mess of book reviewers (I love ‘em, but it’s like herding cats).
Chris has been chugging right along with PBR for just about a year now, and it’s been amazing how well-received the publication has been in Portland.
Several months ago, another reviewer, Claudette Smith, came on board to create Denver Book Review, which should be coming out with their debut issue in November.
Sometimes, it just takes time for a concept to take hold. A lot of time.
We’d chatted with Gary Shaffer a year ago about the City Book Review business model. He’d just recently left the Sacramento Library system to be the new CEO of the Tulsa City-County Library system. He’d been a huge supporter of Sacramento Book Review. He expressed interest in starting a Tulsa version of what we do here, but needed time to settle into his new position.
So, we waited.
And, here it is, a year later. We’ve been working with the incredibly supportive staff over at the Tulsa City-County Library to put together their first issue for November — in just under a week after cementing a concept. I’ve slapped on Gary’s training wheels, and we’re off and riding! He will soon know everything there is to know about newspaper layout and press deadlines. I’ll have him in tears in no time!
I’m really quite proud of this collaboration between Tulsa and 1776 Productions. Can’t wait to show it to you in a few days.
I got an email from someone last week wanting information on licensing the publication in Pittsburgh. Another one of our long-time reviewers. I emailed Chris and said that Jodi wanted to know what it takes to do this.
Our answer in unison: A WHOLE BUCKET OF CRAZY!