Rethinking the catalog: Some notes on fall 2022

Over the past couple of tumultuous years, lots about publishing has changed and lots has stayed the same—and both tendencies are on display in West Virginia’s new seasonal catalog.

Several publishers have recently moved away from seasonal catalogs altogether, as the effort required to design, edit, print, and distribute them has come under new scrutiny. (Early in the pandemic, when so few people had access to the work mailboxes where catalogs tend to be sent, the investment seemed especially questionable.) But at West Virginia we’ve happily kept at it, believing there’s value in stopping, every six months, to share with our readers a tangible guide to forthcoming books.

We’re always adapting as things shift around us, though, and with the fall 2022 catalog we’ve made changes. It’s a shorter document, scaled back to align with (post)pandemic attention spans—and to function as a teaser (“learn more online!”) rather than a comprehensive reference work. We still like paper, but we want to use our print catalog to invite you to online spaces for conversation and, of course, for ordering books.

Some tidbits:

—The catalog has gotten thinner, but it’s the same height and width it’s always been. We’re attached to our distinctive 5.5 x 7.5 dimensions.

—The catalog cover was adapted by in-demand designer Rachel Willey from her cover for Tom Bredehoft’s forthcoming book Foote. You can see more of Rachel’s work on Instagram.

—We’ve joined the pandemic-era craze for QR codes! We’re using them not just in the new seasonal catalog, but at conference exhibits, as you may have seen on our posters at the AWP and ASA meetings in March.

—Perhaps most important, the new design creates new ways to view our season. “It’s nice to see most of the season’s covers in one big spread when the new catalog is fully open,” says our marketing manager and acquisitions editor, Sarah Munroe. “The colors pop and it’s easier to take in the diversity and range of the subjects we cover, a kind of proud reflection of the work we’ve been doing and the time it took to get these books to this stage.”

At West Virginia we’ve always liked catalog season, both because it’s fun sharing ours with the world and because we like seeing the ones that come from other publishers. We’re confident our reimagined presentation will continue to generate anticipation, and we invite you, as always, to let us know what you think.

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