In 2015 the City of Fort Smith, Arkansas, started planning for their bicentennial celebration in 2018. One of the things they wanted to do was create a bicentennial commemorative coffee table book showing not only the rich history of the city but also what it looks like today. They contacted Barry Levin, the publisher for Riverbend Books, an imprint of Bookhouse Group, Inc. to start this process.
Riverbend Books specializes in, what we term as, city books. City books are paid for through company sponsorships. These sponsorships are stories of the purchasing company and can be one page to four pages long. A one-page sponsorship consists of 225 words and one photo, while a four-page sponsorship can have up to eight photos and 600 words for its story.
The title of the book became Bridging Borders & Time and work was started on marketing the book to the sponsors. Bookhouse’s designer, Rick Korab, created a working cover for the book, which later became the actual jacket. Renée Peyton designed the brochures and forms used.
In the beginning of 2016, Bob Sadoski, Riverbend’s premier sales person, started contacting major companies in Fort Smith offering them an opportunity to participate in this project. Sales were completed in October of 2016. Bob signed up 48 sponsors for a total of 108 pages. Not bad for a city with a population of 88,000 people.
Red Clay Editorial Services was selected to write for this project. Red Clay is a team of two writers, Marty Hohmann and Donna Brooks. They were assigned to contact the sponsors, and interview them, then craft their stories for the sponsorship pages. This city book, unlike most of the others Riverbend has done, also has a history section in the book. Red Clay also wrote this.
Lisa Means, one of Riverbend’s photographers went to Fort Smith five times over a period of a year to take photographs for the book. Renée Peyton, Riverbend’s project manager, and archivist went to Fort Smith May of 2016 for archival research for the history of the book. She spent time at Fort Smith’s History Museum combing through the many photographs that would best tell the story of Fort Smith over the past 200 years.
Finally, in July of 2017 design was started. Rick Korab handled the history and editorial sections of the book, while Renée designed the sponsor pages. The book was originally slated to be 246 pages but came in at 280 pages. The design was completed and approved in September of 2017. The book was then sent to Shanghai, China for printing, and delivered the beginning of December just in time for Christmas.