White Cloud Press has a strong year

With 60 titles in print — nine of them new — and a 40 percent jump in sales this year, White Cloud Press of Ashland seems to have struck a rich vein in spirituality and environmental awareness, with two strong sellers focusing on understanding the Muslim community in America.

White Cloud placed second on Huffington Post's top religion books of the year with "I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim." Its "The Muslim Next Door" from 2008 is one of two books chosen for Silicon Valley Reads, a county library program that tries to get everyone reading the same book, says Steve Scholl, publisher of White Cloud.

The Utne Reader in its March issue will feature White Cloud's "Uprisings for the Earth: Reconnecting Culture With Nature," by Osprey Orielle Lake. A similar title, connecting nature, spirituality and social change, "Love Letter to the Milky Way," by Bay Area poet Drew Dellinger, features verse inspired by the Occupy Movement and has been getting readings at such gatherings, Scholl said.

"Embrace Your Inner Wild," with poems by Mary Reynolds Thompson and photos by Don Moseman, both of Marin County, Calif., chronicles Moseman's healing during recovery from alcoholism.

The similar "Branch for the Lightning Tree," by Martin Shaw, links language and myth, using old world tales about journeys away from safe civilization and into the wild to "reenchant our perspective."

"We've become good at finding the right authors, who come with a concrete, dynamic plan to get their book out into the world," said Scholl. "We can't take risks on books anymore. We, the publisher, can't love their book more than the authors do. Our authors are driven by a passion and mission and are great storytellers with great stories."

The book on Muslim women in America "went toe-to-toe with nine titles from major New York publishers, so it's very encouraging," Scholl said. "It's touching a nerve because it deals with Islam in this country. There are very influential, moneyed groups here saying every day that Islam is dangerous and harmful to America."

The book roundly disavows Islamic terrorist movements, notes that every religion has "a handful of radical extremists" and shows the 20-year struggle to be part of the American mainstream, Scholl said. In February, White Cloud will publish Ashland author Ellae Elinwood's "The Earth is Your Sweet Spot: A Woman's Guide to Living Beautifully," co-written with Mary Lanier and offering "simple, very heart-centered ideas on the relationship between the feminine and Mother Earth," he said. The company published about 15 percent of its books as e-books on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook. Scholl said while digital books will grow apace, hard-copy books still have an enduring market.

"E-books and online content are going to do nothing but expand and gobble more of the market, as e-readers get more capacity," he said. "Now you can throw in embedded video. The world is getting more and more wired and connected."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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