Interview: Local Book Publisher Making Western Imprint

Apr 27, 2016

One of two shelves at Sundance Books and Music dedicated to the titles from Baobab Press.
Credit Noah Glick

Former University of Nevada, Reno President Joe Crowley is releasing a collection of poetry this week. The book, entitled Hats Off to the Cap, is published by local, independent Baobab Press. Reno Public Radio’s Noah Glick recently paid them a visit.

As I walk into Sundance Books and Music, a quiet, yet imposing century-old Victorian nestled within Midtown Reno, I first notice the high ceilings and corner desk typewriter.

“What does your poem read here?” I ask.

“I think I put them in the right order. It’s Be Silly, Be Kind, Be Honest.”

That’s Molly Albert, the production manager for Baobab Press. Today, she’s also my tour guide.

“So this is a room within a room we’re going to,” she says, as she leads me upstairs to the expertly hidden third floor, the attic office of Baobab Press. This is where I meet Christine Kelly, publisher and executive editor.

Molly Albert stands in the office of Baobab Press, located on the third floor of Sundance Books and Music.
Credit Noah Glick

Noah Glick: Can you just tell me a little bit about the press and how it started?

Christine Kelly: Well it started I think about ten years ago, and I think it was just sort of a natural evolution coming out of being in the book business, and book seller and book buyer and seeing so many books as they come across the desk and on our shelves. And then bite of, “Gosh can we do this?” or, “If I had the opportunity to do this book, how would I have done it differently?” started brewing in the back of my mind.

Then I had the opportunity to work with Guy Clifton, local reporter, author, historian and Jack Bacon, local businessman. So Jack and I did a book for Guy Clifton and it’s called Dempsey In Nevada—the whole thing from manuscripts to design of the book to picking the paper, the fabric of the spine, the whole nine yards of what goes into creating a physical book.

NG: I know you feel strongly about the physical book itself and that experience. Can you explain any worries or concerns you have with digitization of books moving forward?

CK: I’m not particularly worried at all, and actually I think it’s a great tool to have books digitized. But that does not mean it’s an either or in my mind. I certainly don’t think the physical book will ever go away because I think there is an experience with a physical book that is unmatched. There is nothing that is going to replace that physical book.

NG: What is the main goal of the press and what is it you’re hoping to contribute to the community and to literature as a whole?

CK: Well the main goal of the press is to have fun. Really, why do something if you’re miserable? So we do it because we really enjoy it and we want to have fun doing it. It’s just this really great playground, this great sandbox to be in.

What we would like to do is continue to add to the general, and I know this sounds grandiose, but we hope that whatever we put out in an addition to. It’s not just one more object out there, but it is an object with longevity, with content, with meat and potatoes—whether it be fiction or nonfiction. So we want to add something to the world that has value.

And we certainly want to help be a part of the literary scene this side of the divide. It’s replete with creative people on all fronts that intersect in the world of language and books. So many people intersect to make a book and [there are] a lot of them out here. We want to be part of that exciting venture, and really kind of say, “Hey, this side of the divide, it’s not too shabby.”

NG: Baobab Press is a pretty unique name. Is there a significance behind the name?

CK: Well I’m a fan of trees and I’m a fan of The Little Prince, which the Baobab tree plays an important role in. But very sentimentally and most importantly, it’s my mother’s initials.

Molly Albert's poem of choice, from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Credit Noah Glick

For the last decade, Baobab Press has published a variety of Western-inspired titles, including Dempsey in Nevada, Nevada Grown and Basque Aspen Art of the Sierra Nevada.

A second shelf of books from Baobab Press.
Credit Noah Glick