Paul Goble Book Signing, Prairie Edge, Rapid City

This past weekend, Paul Goble signed copies of his new book, Walking Along, published by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. He also entertained reporters from KOTA and KNBN television news stations.
Below are a few photos:

SD Book Festival

Last week we posted about the South Dakota Library Association conference, but that’s not the only travel we have planned this week. Starting Thursday evening, and running through Sunday morning, it’s also the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood.

The Book Festival is a major event for the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. As the largest publisher or books in the state, this is our most important chance of the year to put ourselves in front of our readers. The Book Festival is always a really well run show with many thousands of attendees, tons of well-known authors and illustrators, as well as excellent sessions and presentations throughout the 4 days.

This year we’re proud to say that we have eight SDSHS Press authors and illustrators attending the festival and presenting talks about their work. Suzanne Julin, Marilyn Kratz, Donald F. Montileaux, Merlyn Magner, Susan Turnbull, David Wolff, Mary Kopco, and Marc Rasmussen are the talented people in question. We also have a major announcement to make, but we can’t give any more details on that just yet. Show up to the opening event on Thursday evening at the Roundhouse Restaurant in Lead to find out the exciting news.

Additionally, we’ll have prize draws and special offers at our display booth throughout the weekend, as well as the chance to hang out with our authors and illustrators, get their books signed, and savor the ever-growing list of books we publish.

We’re looking forward to a great show and we hope we get a chance to say hello to you at some point during the weekend.

New Covers

Just thought we’d share with you the covers of the next three books to come from the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. Let us know what you think!

Bye, Bye Borders

Today’s front page of the Rapid City Journal sent shivers through the offices of the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. Borders, the dying megalith of the bricks-and-mortar book world, is closing its store in South Dakota’s second-largest city. For a publisher that has just a handful of bona fide bookstores in its home state, losing its second largest bookstore is not a particularly positive development.

We’re sad to see Borders go. Many within the small press world will choose to denigrate Borders as a chain store, picking an independent store over it every time. We love independent bookstores as well, but Borders buys a lot of books! Rapid City has seen its bookstore numbers dwindle to the point that when Borders closes only Prairie Edge (which is really a gallery, but has a great book selection) will remain. During that times the SDSHS Press has always known that we will sell a good number of books to Borders. This knowledge was comforting, particularly when book sales are down, so we’ll definitely miss it in purely financial terms, but we’ll also miss Borders because it was a bookstore. Regardless of whether a super-chain or a mom-and-pop outfit, a bookstore is a bookstore, and to hear of another one biting the dust is an oh-too-sad moment.

Maybe someone will pick up the mantle and open a new, independent bookstore. I can’t see Barnes & Noble taking the risk, but perhaps someone will see that a locally oriented bookstore might just work. Examples of successful, independent bookstores exist in Pierre (Prairie Pages), Mitchell (Readers’ Den), and Aberdeen (The Little Professor), so there is precedent for a smaller bookstore with a regional/local ethos to do well in South Dakota.

Whatever happens in Rapid City, you can rest assured that the SDSHS Press will continue to publish great books on South Dakota history, and that you will be able to find them in various (perhaps less traditional) places throughout the city and the state. We wish all the employees at Borders the best of luck in locating new jobs, and we’re grateful that they were there for so long, telling people about our books and sharing their love of the printed word.

Merlyn Magner’s Book Tour

From Wednesday 8 to Monday 13 June, South Dakota State Historical Society Press author Merlyn Magner has been touring South Dakota for her new book, Come into the Water: A Survivor’s Story.

During that time, she has given three presentations, signed books in four locations, and been interviewed by television, radio, and print media a combined twelve times. In other words, Merlyn’s been quite busy! She started the tour soon after arriving in Rapid City, SD, from her home in the Ozarks last Wednesday. By that time, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the Rapid City Journal had already interviewed her, but South Dakota Public Television had not yet had the chance. She unpacked her bags at the hotel and drove out to where her house stood before the flood washed it away to meet Charles Michael Ray of SDPB TV. The interview went well, and the footage will be used in an SDPB special for the 40th anniversary of the flood in 2012.

June 9th dawned and, with it, so did the anniversary of the 1972 Rapid City Flood. A jam-packed day awaited Merlyn, which started bright and early with a radio interview conducted by Don Grant for KOTA-Radio out of Rapid City. From there, she whisked over to SDPB’s radio studio to chat with Dakota Midday host Paul Guggenheimer, and from there, she hurried straight over to KOTA-TV studios in order to appear on the noon news show with Cindy Davis. Don, Paul, and Cindy asked some great questions, gave Merlyn the chance to answer in depth, and conducted flawless interviews.

Not content with a few minutes on the live show, Cindy asked Merlyn to partake in a longer feature piece for the evening news. So, we all headed over to Merlyn’s former home, where Cindy filmed and questioned Merlyn further. At the end of the filming, we finally had a moment to catch our breath before the next appointment: an oral-history interview at the Journey Museum for their comprehensive exhibit on the flood. An hour or so flew by quickly, which left enough time for dinner before returning to the Journey for a presentation, book signing, and reception that evening. Having hoped for seventy-five or attendees, it became apparent by about 6:30pm that we had underestimated rather considerably. The official count ended up at 296 audience members, 3 TV news crews (including Tessa Thomas from Black Hills Fox, as well as a reporter from KNBN in RC), 2 presenters, and a number of pleased-as-punch Journey Museum staff and this SDSHS Press marketing director! Merlyn and Don Barnett (the other presenter) engaged the audience during their presentations, while answering questions, and as they signed books, and when we finally left at almost 10pm, it is safe to say that although rather tired, we were all pleased with the outcome.

Friday, we headed back to Pierre. Merlyn had interviews with the Capital Journal and with KSOO radio to carry out prior to a presentation and signing at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, and, once again, both interviews went well. The presentation and signing attracted more than thirty attendees, including some who had their own recollections of the events of 1972. Saturday, we all jumped back in the car and took off for Sioux Falls.

Again, media responsibilities drew us, as did a signing at Zandbroz Bookstore. Both KDLT and KELO TV (two of South Dakota’s biggest news outlets) welcomed Merlyn into their studios for in-depth interviews. With a slightly different target audience, Maren Larson or KDLT and Angela Kennecke of KELO had some slightly different questions to those Merlyn had answered in Rapid City, and as such drew out some new thoughts from our author. The signing at Zandbroz was also well-attended, and as usual, Jeff, Jamie, and their crew at Zandbroz made us all feel right at home.

A long trip back to Rapid City awaited Merlyn, along with a date at the Adams Museum in Deadwood and an interview with the Mitchell Daily Republic today, by which time, I’m fairly certain our most-obliging author will be just about ready for a nap!

Done and Dusted?

The editors at the South Dakota State Historical Society Press nurture a book from its beginnings; we counsel the author during the writing and research; we read the author’s prose and pore over the text, getting him or her to make corrections and improve the work. When the author has signed off, we polish it further, smoothing its rough edges, primping the book for its debut. We read and reread, proof and reproof, until finally, there it is—a finished book. I always set the printed copy aside for a day or two when it first arrives in the warehouse to let it season and then open it to see how it has matured. It doesn’t happen every time, but often enough I have opened it to the page that contains an obvious typo or a real clunker of a grammatical infelicity—and it takes an act of will not to let that moment ruin my satisfaction in the process and the product. Over the course of my career, my eye has landed on the misspelled word, the incorrect date, the syntactical booboo often enough that I am gun shy—I sometimes let a book season for a long time, indeed, before taking a backward glance at it. Thus it was with some trepidation that I picked up the newly released Come into the Water: A Survivor’s Story, by Merlyn Magner, this past weekend. It was sitting on my coffee table, and as I came into the room, I thought, “Wow, what a lovely book.” As I paged through it and reread parts of it, I recalled Merlyn’s hard work and our joint belief that, as she said, we were working on “the little book that could.” I remembered the fun of looking up the lyrics of songs by the Doors and the Beatles and other Sixties bands. I was struck again with the power of this book and its author’s voice. And I set it down without finding an obvious mistake. But, it would not have mattered, this book transcends human error. I highly recommend it.

Come into the Water

Merlyn Magner’s fascinating new book, Come into the Water: A Survivor’s Story has just arrived in the SDSHS Press warehouse!

This incredible book details the horrific night of the Rapid City Flood in June 1972, Merlyn’s personal survival but incredible loss, and her life’s journey to find meaning in the tragedy of that night. Her memoir is powerfully written, engrossing, and engaging. Not to sound the trumpets too loudly, but this really is a book that you can’t put down!

Interested? Check out a short excerpt from the book.