Our Front Edge Publishing Story
Over the past decade, our team has produced more than 100 books with individual authors and major nonprofits nationwide. We’ve worked with Public Television, the Humane Society in the U.S., United Way, the U.S. Corporation for National & Community Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism, the Arab-American ACCESS network, the cancer-support organization Little Pink Houses of Hope—and many other groups. In 2018, for example, we are publishing Tiny Homes in a Big City about the Cass Community tiny homes project in the heart of Detroit. The tiny homes project is sparking headlines in network TV, major newspapers and social media reaching millions nationwide.
Our Founding Promise
Veteran journalist David Crumm and longtime software developer John Hile founded Front Edge Publishing (FEP) in .
Our founding promise: Great media builds healthy communities.
The Digital Scare
That ominous year 2007 was a major milestone in modern publishing. It marked the beginning of what now is remembered as
the Digital Scare. Following the introduction of the iPhone by Apple and Kindle by Amazon that year, publishers watched the rapidly rising tide of e-readers. They assumed that ink-on-paper books would vanish as earlier formats in music and video had disappeared. Across the nation, many publishing projects were abandoned. Major bookstores closed. The tide did not turn in that rush toward e-books until 2013, when it was clear that Americans were returning in the millions to ink-on-paper books. Now, publishers recognize that any effective releases must be simultaneously produced in paper and also in an array of e-book formats.
Most publishing companies were dramatically disrupted and some failed or were gobbled up in acquisitions. However, that transformative period in publishing produced our greatest strength at Front Edge. Committed to publishing books that would make our world a better place, one new title at a time, we developed a unique approach to producing books.
The Core of Our Innovation
At the core of our innovation is FEP Publisher John Hile’s development of our signature XML-first publishing system, which creates books through a seamless digital production flow. At the end of this process, the total content of each book is held in an easily modified single source file. Initially, this allowed us to smoothly adapt to the rapid rise of multi-format e-books. Now, our XML-first software allows us to easily accommodate the robust resurgence of ink-on-paper publishing. As those publishing systems continue to add a wide range of choices in paper, ink color and binding formats, our production system opens the entire array of options to our authors. In an ongoing way, our books can be revised, updated and reformatted. We can modify covers and add or revise pages for individual special orders. We can change editions completely within a matter of a few weeks rather than the cycles for revision that are measured in years at more traditional publishing houses.
FEP Editor David Crumm’s contribution is on the content side. Drawing on his lifetime in international journalism, Crumm selects our partnering authors and organizations. With a journalist’s eye on the world, he especially seeks out important, compelling and inspiring stories to share with readers around the world.
Together, Crumm and Hile organized FEP as a
hybrid publisher. That growing segment of the publishing industry holds to traditional high standards for developing and editing new books, while partnering with authors to share in production costs—as well as passing along to authors a higher revenue from the books we produce together.
The Resurgence of Book Production
Now, Front Edge Publishing is in the vanguard of the resurgence of book production in all forms from digital e-readers to ink-on-paper formats.
Because of the rising tide of our business in recent years, we have added a third partner. Director of Production Dmitri Barvinok contributes skills in both the realms of journalism and digital development of new books. Today, the three partners also are proud to work with a growing circle of editors and designers as well as Director of Marketing Susan Stitt, who helps our authors plan for their book releases. Providing quarterly reports for our authors and ongoing data analysis of our publishing projects is Patty Thompson.
We continue to work with individual authors. We also have strong evidence that publishing books adds value in many ways to nonprofits, schools and community groups. In late 2017, we completed an in-depth white paper for United Way and the U.S. Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) analyzing the impact of two years of publishing with six nonprofits under a CNCS grant. The conclusion of that analysis was: Each group that launched a book in those years expanded its reach and authority in the community and opened doors to further scaling.
Five hundred years after the introduction of books in Europe, books are still a powerful media technology. Books are major game changers in a world oversaturated with streaming media.
Our 10 Principles of Publishing
Through this entire journey, our team continues to be guided by 10 Principles of Publishing, which we first posted online in 2007 on our first day in business. Many authors and partnering organizations have found that these ideals form a solid foundation for innovative, groundbreaking publishing. In fact, the Louisville-based nonprofit Center for Families Learning, which promotes literacy nationwide, distributed copies of our 10 principles to its regional representatives at the Center’s 2016 national conference.
Here are those 10 principles:
- It’s about the voice, not the book. The power lies in the message itself, not in any particular form of media.
- The truth always comes out. So, it’s best to rigorously pursue the truth.
- We must look for the truth in every stage and condition of life—because we often overlook the voices of the most vulnerable among us.
- It’s about connection, not competition. Our messages should call people together, not divide them.
- The most powerful stories are in the lives of ordinary people, who often assume they have nothing to contribute. We must draw them out.
- People need inspiration now. It’s a truth emerging in poll after poll and it’s certainly true in publishing.
- We are in an era of profound change in our human relationship to our planet. Great publishing helps us to more clearly see our place in the world.
- Inspiration moves through community. It’s been true for thousands of years. Good media builds healthier communities.
- Radical transparency is good business, certainly in publishing.
- Peace is possible. Choose to contribute to peace, not conflict, and our audience will grow.