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Self-publishing's virtues

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Letter to the Editor
Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Self-publishing's virtues

Regarding “A Page of Books: Publishing from the inside” (Sept. 30 and How can Jed Lyons, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group president and CEO, criticize self-publishing while still declaring his love of Pennsylvania history?

Pittsburgh, in particular, has had so much of its life captured in self-published works of the city's colorful locals. From Barbara S. Burstin's “Steel City Jews: A History of Pittsburgh and its Jewish Community, 1840-1915” to “Building a Better Robot” (a tribute to Pittsburgh-area punk-rock site the Mr. Roboto Project), self-publishing can be thanked for giving us numerous works that document the diversity of the Keystone State.

FriesenPress, the self-publishing company I work for, was lucky enough to partner with Helen Steudler Young for publication of her “New Ways to Enjoy Lancaster County Pennsylvania Cooking.” What people eat is one of the first things historians look at when trying to understand past cultures. Although not ostensibly a history book, Helen's collection of recipes does the important job of documenting Lancaster County cuisine along Pennsylvania's larger culinary continuum.

Without self-publishing, the stories told by the authors mentioned above would be no more than whispers in the wind. Lyons is concerned about self-publishing. The bigger concern is how much of our history is being lost because traditional publishers don't think it's marketable.

Donald Kennedy

Victoria, British Columbia

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