In 2012, Doug Seibold, president and publisher of Agate, looked around and saw that while Sasquatch Books was meeting the regional needs of the Northwest and Globe Pequot covered the Northeast, no one was looking at the Midwest, Chicago in particular. With his press located in Evanston, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, he was inspired to create an entire imprint, Midway Books, to feature books from this overlooked area. Many books in other Agate imprints also feature Midwest/Chicago-influenced titles. “Some university presses do great regional Midwest publishing, but there was nothing regionally focused on the commercial side. I saw an opportunity there, and it made sense to take advantage of that,” he says.
Keeping to Seibold’s vision, Agate’s 2016 slate highlights the best of the Midwest with four books that represent the region in divergent ways. First up is a bit of Chicago whose reach is wide, the Chicago Bulls, former home of NBA legend Michael Jordan. The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Bulls (Nov.) is being published in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the team’s inaugural season. The Chicago Tribune staff has mined the paper’s vast archives to put together a hardbound collection of essays, box scores, reproduced articles, archival photographs, and various memorabilia on the history of the team. Future books will cover the Cubs, the White Sox, and the Blackhawks.
Moving from the hard court to the stage is Much Ado (Oct.), in which award-winning Chicago journalist Michael Lenehan provides an in-depth and endearing profile of the American Players Theatre and its 2014 production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout has called the APT—in Spring Green, Wis.—“the best classical theater company in America.”
“Rep companies are cultural treasures. Much Ado gives great insight into how these companies work, what makes them successful and what makes them important,” says Seibold.
And then there’s Chicago’s female phenomenon: Oprah. Own It: Oprah Winfrey in Her Own Words (Dec.), the newest installment of Agate B2’s In Their Own Words series, collects thought-provoking quotes from Oprah Winfrey on topics related to business, media, leadership, and life. Own It shares the unique perspective of one of the most adored, respected, and powerful women in the world through insightful comments about her media career, life lessons, entrepreneurship, and her remarkable personal story. Seibold says, “We wanted to focus on Oprah Winfrey because we hadn’t featured a woman business leader yet. And the fact that she is a great Chicago success story is just the icing on the cake for us.”
The quartet is completed with Grant Park (Oct.), the paperback edition of Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.’s critically acclaimed novel, which was released by Agate Bolden in October 2015. Pitts delivers a powerful, emotionally resonant contemporary story that follows two veteran journalists whose personal stories extend from Martin Luther King’s final days in Memphis to the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama, set during his election night victory rally in Chicago’s Grant Park.
All four titles are featured at Agate’s booth (2364B).
This article appeared in the May 11, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.