Muse Journal

Event Recap: PubWest Conference 2023

From February 1-3, our Assistant Editor, Brooke Shannon, had the pleasure of attending PubWest’s annual conference. Collaboration was the theme for this year, and that was evident in each of the exhibits. From roundtable discussions to keynote speakers, attendees were to think about the ways publishers and printers can incorporate collaboration in various capacities. So, we wanted to share some highlights from this amazing event.

The conference opened with a session called “Book Manufacturing in 2023 and Beyond.” Moderated by Matt Baehr, the Executive Director of The Book Manufacturers’ Institute, the following panelists ignited conversation about how publishers, printers, and suppliers have changed from pre-pandemic into 2023: Angela Engel, Publisher & Founder, The Collective Book Studio; Bill Rojack, Midland Paper; Joe Upton, Gasch Printing; Tim Hewitt, Friesens.

Christopher Finan, free speech activist and head of the National Coalition Against Censorship, deeply examined the present state of free speech among the publishing industry. What types of books get taken off of shelves? Why do books discussing racial and LGBTQ+ matters get removed from literary spaces at higher rates? These are the questions Finan addressed and urged attendees to work within our communities to maintain diversified literature.

Considering diversified literature and voices, Terri Mack of Strong Nations Publishing and Tess Olympia of the Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) on how to incorporate Indigenous publishing into the mainstream. SHI sponsors Baby Raven Reads, a program that promotes early-literacy, language development, and school readiness for Alaska-native families with children up to age 5. This wonderful program has decreased the literacy gap between Non-Alaskan, young readers and Alaska-native, young readers to only 2%. As noted by Mack, it is crucial that publishers make space for Indigenous voices as their art and literature matter.

To close out the conference, author Kevin Smokler hosted a PubWest tradition: Speedy Spiels. 9 speakers had 6 minutes each to talk about “collaboration” in whatever way they chose. And our Assistant Editor, Brooke Shannon, was given the opportunity to speak! Providing ways that publishers can better collaborate with BIPOC writers & authors, listen to a clip of her speech in the video below.

Thank you to the PubWest team for hosting yet another great conference!

About PubWest |

The Publishers Association of the West (PubWest) is a national trade organization of publishers and of associated publishing-related members. PubWest is dedicated to offering professional education, providing publishing-related benefits, creating opportunities for our members and associate members to do business, speaking as an advocate for members, recognizing outstanding achievement in publishing, and providing a forum for networking to our publishing and associate members from across the United States and Canada.


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