By DEVIN WEEKS
Imagination brings a story to life.
Authors write the words, and those words are interpreted by the reader.
Somewhere in between is a whole world to be uploaded, animated, colorized, recorded, enhanced and otherwise brought to life in an entirely new way.
Bitterroot Mountain Publishing has discovered that in-between place — a creative space that knows no boundaries.
"It’s going to increase the value of this community that beautifully blends in the technology we’re getting very famous for," said Bitterroot interim CEO Josephie Dean Jackson. "It’s integrated now, and it’s beautiful because we’re small enough that we can play with it."
The North Idaho-based independent publishing house is celebrating its 10th anniversary by shedding its original cover and trying on something a little more modern: multi-media, community partnerships and an overhaul of the company in general.
"We are restructuring the articles of incorporation and the operating agreement and the contracts. They’re going to be variant upon individuals and situations," Jackson said. "We’re a story unfolding, melding the old with the new, and we’re being a media technology company sharing the human experience."
Bitterroot does not have a brick and mortar presence. Their printed books are published through Lightning Source, a Tennessee-based company.
Bitterroot's president and cofounder, Larry Telles, formed Bitterroot with colleagues in June 2008 when he contacted several publishers about his first book.
"I had four companies say, ‘We love your book but not this year,’” Telles said. “I emailed back, ‘How about next year?’ and I received nothing. I said, 'No, this can’t be.'”
After consulting the Idaho Writers League and rounding up a handful of like-minded individuals, Telles and company created their own publishing group focused on unique stories and "underdog" authors who couldn't get through to the big companies.
"We just stumbled along because none of us had ever run a publishing company before," Telles said.
The goal was, and still is, to give writers the opportunity to publish their works without having to self-publish.
"We gave them credibility because self-publishing still has a slight stigma," Telles explained. "People who write or want to write and self-publish, they cut corners and they don’t have somebody edit it. When you have five typos on the first page, that adds to the stigma of self-publishing.”
In its decade of existence, Bitterroot has published 28 books and has served as a distributer of DVDs. By the end of this year, the company is expecting to publish about 10 more with as many as another 50 within the next year. The books vary in subject matter, from Hollywood's first professional stuntwoman to managing grief in the wake of suicide.
“After 10 years and 28 books, no two genres are the same,” Telles said.
Increasing its output is just one piece of what is ahead for Bitterroot. Although it has always had capabilities to produce digital or hard copies, it is now entering an era when animation, audio, video and other avenues of engagement are being explored.
"The challenge is interesting here," said chief technology officer Sean Bonner, who formerly managed a software team for Amazon. "Problem areas are how do you do that, expose more people, and still tell stories? It's all about how to tell the stories."
"A lot of publishing houses have collapsed," Jackson said. "The new publishing houses are trying to work out how they’re going to pivot and how they’re going to use technology."
YouTube is one tool the company will tap to connect authors with their audiences, as well as audio books and digital artists to generate creative concepts. Bitterroot is actively seeking local talent to add to its team, including printers, illustrators, distributors, editors and writers, as well as those who can assist with legal and financial matters.
Bitterroot also has big plans to connect with community members. Through its Book and Beer series at Elk Point, the public will be able to learn about its books, meet authors and enjoy beverages from local breweries. The events are listed at www.bmphmedia.com/calendar/.
“The series is to celebrate the 10th anniversary and also mark the transition from the former publishing house as it was into this new entity,” Jackson said.
“We’re looking at increasing the exposure of income generation through affiliate marketing, other sorts of marketing, other aspects to bring in income for this company," she continued. "We’re creating our own identity that’s totally unique and no one else is doing it. We’re implementing all these different ideas, and if they work, they work. If they don’t, we’ll learn from it."