I remember the day that I realized publishing was my destiny. I was helping a history professor at the computer help desk, where I worked for four years while a student at the University of Montana. He had published a book and was working on a revised edition, but needed some input on keeping the index consistent (which I know now is quite the quandary!). We were working through the issue, and he said, “You are good at this. You should work in publishing.”
One year later, I was learning the ropes at the Arthur H. Clark Company, a small publishing company and rare-books store. Over one hundred years old and run by the third generation of Clarks, it was a perfect place to learn real, classic book design. I was so happy to be at a company that created great, beautiful books, not to mention its area of specialty: the development and exploration of the American West between 1835 and 1865. Being a Montana native, I had grown up with classes on the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark, but it wasn’t until I worked on Clark books that I really grasped the history of the West–like learning that Lost Trail Pass isn’t just the site of my favorite snowboarding spot in college but where Lewis and Clark actually lost the trail in their slog west.
In 2006 the Clark Company became an imprint of the University of Oklahoma Press, and Capital A Publications was created. Emphatically not a publishing company, we are a book design (text and covers) and editing firm. We also design some journals, so there is always a nice range of very short (say, a forty-page journal) and long (as in an eleven-hundred-page, two-volume behemoth) projects.
The Capital A weblog is written by me (as often as my busy production schedule allows), and it also includes posts by Jonna Yost, who was my associate production editor for six years (and who continues to occasionally contribute new articles). Many thanks to Sean Girard, who took our masthead photo using some of the books that I’ve worked on over the years.
I hope that you enjoy these projects. I welcome your feedback.
Ariane C. Smith