“Best AltWeekly Writing and Design 2005,” a collection of the first-place winners in the AltWeekly Awards contest, was released on Sept. 19. This year, for the first time in the contest’s 10-year history, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies produced a volume of bookstore quality, and the book is being marketed to the general public, libraries and journalism schools.
More than 380 copies of an initial print run of 1,000 have been distributed free. Editors of all of the papers belonging to AAN will receive copies this week. Books were also mailed out on Sept. 15 to winning freelancers, all 141 contest judges and a selection of journalism professors, book review editors and acquisitions librarians.
The outstanding writing and design honored by the judges seemed to deserve a wider audience, and that’s what spurred co-editors Ruth Hammond and La Shonya McNeil, working with designer Katherine Topaz, to publish a volume that meets bookstore standards. The book has an ISBN bar code to facilitate cash-register sales, an introduction, a detailed table of contents, biographies of all the winners, and a copyright statement about each work, The judges’ comments on the winners are presented in a way that could stir up discussion in journalism classes.
One appealing aspect of the book is its breadth. It contains serious investigations, such as Nigel Jaquiss’s story for Willamette Week on sexual wrongdoing by a leading political figure in Oregon, and lighter (though still serious) looks at music, film and food. Outstanding photography, illustrations and layout are featured in a 32-page color inset.
AAN will continue to pursue avenues to make the book more widely available with the hope of attracting more attention to the strong contribution alternative weeklies make to journalism. The winning papers are also invited to market “Best AltWeekly Writing and Design 2005” in their region, using press releases and order forms provided by AAN. Papers can buy books at a discount and sell them at their own special events. Or they can arrange to have a reading and signing at one of their local bookstores. They’re also encouraged to promote the book on their Web sites by linking an image of the cover of the book to an online order form.
Readers of the book are pointed to a Web page that has links to nearly all the AAN finalists, and a number of freelance journalists are interviewing the winners to learn how they tracked down and wrote their stories. The “How I Got That Story” series will be posted on the AAN Web site beginning next month. The supplementary online material is expected to increase the value of the book to budding journalists.
In previous years, the awards books was spiral-bound, and its distribution was limited primarily to AAN editors and the contest’s final judges.
“Best AltWeekly Writing and Design 2005” costs $19.95 per copy, with discounts for bulk orders. It can be obtained by calling 1-800-494-3537 or by filling out the online order form, then printing out the form and either mailing or faxing it to AAN’s contracted fulfillment center in New Richmond, Wis.
Any questions about the content and distribution of the book can be addressed to co-editor Ruth Hammond.