PLA & Pacific Northwest Spotlight: Publishing in the Pacific Northwest – Publishers Weekly


The Pacific Northwest is famously home to Amazon—but it is also home to the indie press that publishes How to Resist Amazon and Why, a statement that reflects the richness of one of the nation’s most vibrant publishing scenes. The Pacific Northwest is known for its many bookstores, publishers, colleges and universities, and for its innovative libraries. And there is a strong ethos of community and cooperation which has served the region well during the Covid-19 crisis.

Much has changed since PW last highlighted the region back in November 2016. But if anything, the challenges of the last two years have a highlighted the qualities that make the Pacific Northwest book publishing community exceptional: tech savvy and a spirit of innovation, individualism and resilience, environmental awareness, and a deep commitment to equity and fairness, independence and community.

For this look at publishing in the Pacific Northwest, we conducted more than 50 interviews. What we found is a region that has creatively weathered the challenges of the last few years. A sampling of the region’s publishers follows, but check out the PW website for an expanded look at the region, including booksellers.

A Kids Company About

In 2018, Jelani Memory wrote a book for his kids: A Kids Book About Racism. “Growing up as a Black kid in the whitest city in America, it felt important that my kids not only know and understand what racism is but be able to talk about it openly,” he says. So began Memory’s journey from concerned parent to media business owner—still in “the whitest city in America,” Portland, Ore.
There are now dozens of “A Kids Book About” titles, all on important topics that can be hard to explain to kids. The books are distinctive for their beautiful textual design—but are not illustrated. “Sorry, but no dragons or princesses here,” Memory says. “Kids have real experiences, ideas, and questions. These books talk up to them, treat them like they’re smart, and create space for conversation.”

What began as a direct-to-consumer book business for kids ages five to nine is now a multimedia company that allows kids to interact with content in the many places they live—on phones, in books, at home, in the car, or through headphones. The company recently expanded the age range of kids for whom it makes content to 10–16. And AKCA now has launched nine podcasts, all featuring diverse hosts and covering topics like climate change, how to investigate facts, and how to be an activist (which is hosted by an eight-year-old).

AKCA lives the values it publishes. Authors and employees come from diverse backgrounds. And the working environment is remote-work and family-friendly. “As a kids company, we have a lot of parents on our team and the expectation is that life with kids …….


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