Local References, Local Resources, Local Publishing

CBR_Logo2American Bar Association. American Dental Association. American Hospital Association. American Library Association.

I could go on.

National Association of Realtors. National Black MBA Association. National Restaurant Association.

I could still go on. But I won’t.

Chicago is home to headquarters, regional offices, and chapters of myriad associations. In fact, Chicago is home to more associations than any other city in the country outside of Washington, DC. That’s a lot of associations. Hundreds of them. Like 1,600 of ’em.

Along with the hundreds of associations that are located here are some robust publishing programs. Many associations have publishing divisions that churn out books, magazines, newsletters, online materials, and so forth, and many of those publishing groups are the profit centers of otherwise nonprofit entities. Much of the material associations publish is geared toward members and toward individuals in related professions. These professional resources serve as valuable tools for continuing education, career development, and research and reference.

All these associations and all the materials they publish provide a lot of opportunities to read local. As part of our “Read Local” series, today we’ll look at a handful of Chicago’s association publishing programs.

Founded in 1917 and headquartered in Chicago, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is the world’s largest association of food and nutrition professionals. Most of the Academy’s 75,000 members are registered dietitians. The Academy publishes professional reference materials as well as consumer reference titles. Professional tools include career and classroom references, client education resources, and pocket guides that cover such issues as bariatric surgery, neonatal nutrition, and enteral nutrition (yeah … I don’t really know what that is, either). On the consumer side, readers can find books about everything from cooking to eating healthy to managing diabetes. The Academy also offers webinars, apps, and other online learning tools, as well as journals, practice papers, position papers, and myriad other references and resources of interest to professionals and consumers alike.

Just a mile northeast of the Academy’s Riverside Plaza headquarters is the American Bar Association. With nearly 400,000 members, the ABA is one of the largest voluntary member organizations in the world. Founded in 1878, the ABA counts lawyers, law students, and related professionals among its members. As with many professional associations, the ABA, which has been publishing books for more than thirty years, has a thriving publishing program, which includes more than a thousand books, magazines, and journals. The association will publish more than 200 new titles next year, about 150 of which will be released as ebooks, according to Tim Brandhorst, director of new product development. Most titles are sold directly to members and other consumers, largely through the ABA’s estore (www.shopABA.org); titles also are distributed to bookstores and other retailers through National Book Network. Key ABA titles include the “Little Books” series, Transgender Persons and the Law, Civil War Lawyers, Practicing Shariah Law, and a medical–legal guide series.

ABA Publishing’s book staff consists of eight acquisitions editors; seven marketers; in-house advertising, production, design departments; a unit that handles copyrights, contracts, and reprints; and a couple assistants. These folks work with authors from across the country and around the world, but also with experts right here. Some of the ABA’s prominent Chicago authors include Edna Selan Epstein (Attorney-Client Privilege and the Work-Product Doctrine), Mark Herrmann (The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law), and Arin Reeves (The Next IQ).

Farther north and also working with local and national authors is the American Library Association, which recently hosted its 2013 annual conference right here in Chicago. The ALA is the oldest and largest library organization in the world. Founded in 1876, the ALA is home to the esteemed Newberry and Caldecott awards.

As with the ABA, ALA’s publishing program is geared much toward its members. “Everything we do contributes to the mission of ALA,” says Don Chatham, associate executive director of ALA Publishing. Chatham oversees what essentially is a commercial publishing company within the association. That “company” is comprised of five imprints: ALA Editions, Booklist publications, American Libraries magazine, ALA Digital Reference, and ALA Graphics (which makes those fabulous “READ” posters you see in libraries). ALA Publishing recently acquired Neal-Schuman Publishers and this year will publish seventy new titles (fifty or sixty is more typical).

ALA has been publishing books since about 1907 (Booklist has been in print for 115 years). In fact its very first title, Guide to the Study and Use of Reference Books, is still in print (now referred to as Guide to Reference). Other key titles include Fundamentals of Collection Development, Early Literacy Storytimes, and The Whole Library Handbook.

A “good staff dedicated to the library profession” works on ALA’s various publishing efforts. About 58 in-house staffers work on the books and other materials published by ALA. “We’re very active and committed to digital content,” Chatham says.

ALA, ABA, the Academy, and other associations serve their members, related professionals, and general readers by publishing myriad materials in a variety of formats. It’s “mission with a margin” as Chatham notes. It’s also an important facet of Chicago’s publishing industry—and an often overlooked way to read local.


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One response to “Local References, Local Resources, Local Publishing

  1. Pingback: Just What the Doctor Ordered: Medical Publishing in Chicagoland | Chicago Book Review

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