One of the more exciting library projects—ONEBOOKAZ—is occurring under the leadership of the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State’s office. Many communities have sponsored a “one book” program, in which a whole city or county is invited to read a title at the same time. But ONEBOOKAZ has three twists that make it different.
One book, three differences
First, it was a contest. There were three awards: adult, teen, and kids. The authors had to live in Arizona (although the content of the books did not have to be Arizona-focused). All the works were either self-published or unpublished. The books were then judged through three rounds by librarians and invited published Arizona authors. There were 125 submissions—impressive for the short promotional period of three months. Those months involved a lot of packed writing workshops around the state.
Second, these were ebooks. The state library oversaw the judging, editing, and reformatting, then distribution through LJ and BiblioBoard’s SELF-e platform. Even the kid’s book was a digital offering. (Some of the books are also available via print on demand through other sources; one is even available as an audiobook.)
Third, beginning March 14, 2014, the books were made available for free, simultaneous download to anyone connecting from an Arizona location. Interested people just had to go to BiblioBoard’s streaming ebook service, or the ONEBOOKAZ website, www.readingarizona.org.
Donna Throckmorton, a library services consultant for the state, told LJ that the one book program had been around since 2002 and was very popular. In 2013 the state stopped for a year; 2014 was its first year to go digital. By then, pent-up demand seemed to make the public a little more willing to try a new format.
Throckmorton underscores that the winning authors got “a three for one: they were entered into the SELF-e platform, entered as possible selections for the Reading Arizona platform, and also entered in the ONEBOOKAZ contest.”
Does the state library plan to do the ebook contest again? “Yes!” Throckmorton said. “We’ve really enjoyed this process. These books have been selected because they’re very good. We really love these books, and we are dedicated to supporting self-published authors through library programs such as ONEBOOKAZ.”
Meet the winners
- For Adults: Marcia Fine of Scottsdale, AZ, won for
The Blind Eye: A Sephardic Journey. Two women
in different centuries explore their identities in
this sweeping narrative about a family expelled
from Spain, connecting forward across time to
a modern woman of Cuban descent.
- For Teens: Dan Trumpis of Sun Lakes, AZ, won for Welcome to Harmony, a fantasy about a tween wolf moving to a new town where his is not the only family with something to hide.
- For Kids: Gale Leach of Sun City West, AZ, won for Bruce and the Road to Courage, in which Bruce the caterpillar runs away from home to avoid becoming a butterfly and finds friends and misadventure along the way.
Offering her congratulations, Secretary of State Michele Reagan said, “My office is excited to share these ebooks statewide and allow Arizonans to get to know these talented authors, support Arizona authors, and share their wonderful stories.”
A boon, and boost, to authors
In effect, the library has become the publisher, has encouraged reading and writing statewide, and has given a tremendous boost to local author visibility. In addition, the selected ONEBOOKAZ authors are scheduled to appear in public libraries and other locations around the state. There is also a reading guide for each, to aid in local discussions. For self-published authors, this is gold.
Adult winner Fine said that “getting in with libraries is your best bet” to make in the new world of publishing. Although she had written books before (a satirical series about Scottsdale), she had begun to do historical fiction and said she thought librarians might be interested “because it was more serious.” (Although this complaint from Stressed in Scottsdale: “My hairdresser didn’t have my color!” sounds funny enough to appeal to us, too.) When she got the call from Throckmorton, Fine at first thought it was a girlfriend putting her on. “Then,” she said, “I was thrilled!”
What’s the effect of the award? “This may be the push that promotes me to the national level, which is what I’ve been looking for,” said Fine.