Little Books with Big Impact

Note from NDSU Press Publisher Suzzanne Kelley

With some frequency, North Dakota State University Press receives manuscripts that are not quite book-length but still significant studies or literary works. In the past, we’ve sadly turned them away. Our new series, A Little Book about North Dakota, provides the opportunity to bring such works to the public.

Several years ago, when I was conducting historical research in New Zealand, I spied the BWB Texts Collection, little books on a variety of New Zealand topics produced by Bridget Williams Books and prominently displayed in nearly every bookstore. Now, with dozens of “short books on big subjects,” the BWB Texts are affordable, easy to carry while traveling, and chock full of interesting content of interest to New Zealanders. Each book measures only a few inches wide and tall and generally has somewhere between eighty and two hundred pages.

Enamored with the idea of the little book, I posed the notion to my Certificate in Publishing students. One of the graduate students, Ana Rusness-Petersen especially liked the idea. She set out to learn everything she could about little books as her publishing research project. Her findings include aspects of contemporary trends in format, content, production, marketing, and distribution, which NDSU Press has ably adopted for this new series.

In March 2020, I set the idea before the members of the press’s Editorial Board, where it was met with much enthusiasm. I suggested Mike Jacobs—retired editor and publisher of the Grand Forks Herald—might serve as series editor, and the board members approved unanimously. When Mike accepted the invitation, the project began in earnest. Our series logo and cover designs are by award-winning graphic designer Jamie Trosen. Deb Tanner, also an award-winning designer and a long-time designer for NDSU Press, takes care of every aspect—aesthetic and technical—of the interior design.

These images are final cover design concepts for our Little Book about North Dakota series. We’ll use yellow for poetry, red for fiction, and green for nonfiction. The back cover wraps over to the front, exhibiting North Dakota’s borders and counties. The series volume number is visible in the lower right corner, and the series logo appears in the upper left.

 

Here is a sample of a two-page spread from our debut Little Book about North Dakota, featuring a full-color illustration by Mike Jacobs and one of Rogal’s poems.

Each Little Book about North Dakota measures 6” x 6” and contains a substantive and/or literary treatment of the history, science, social science, health, politics, literature, culture, or contemporary life in North Dakota. Did we think of every possible category? No. The possibilities for content are limitless, bound only by their connection to North Dakota.

Submissions of such works, which will undergo our blind peer review process for acquisition, may be sent to our online submissions portal at https://ndsupress.submittable.com/submit.

Our first volume, Field Notes, released just a week ago, is available from our NDSU Press online store, Ingram, Amazon, and your favorite independent bookseller.

Here is the cover design for our first volume, a collection of poetry called Field Notes, by Margaret Rogal. When the book is closed, it measures 6″ x 6″ and contains 120 pages, with color images throughout. All of our Little Books will be of this same dimension.

 

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