For the past 25 years Foreword Reviews has been providing reviews of indie books. Now the organization reaches 300,000 readers and 36,000 booksellers and libraries annually with more than 30,000 long-form book reviews. The best part? They call Traverse City home.

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As the first and premier magazine exclusively for reviews of independently published book, Foreword was established to promote more diversity in publishing. Since 1998 they’ve been providing high-quality reviews of indie books and have been innovating the indie publishing space ever since. This year they’re celebrating 25 years and to celebrate we asked Founder Victoria Sutherland a few questions on what it means to be a part of the Northern Michigan community, how to get involved with Foreword and what families can do to make reading a priority this summer.

Rachel Soulliere (RS): What does it mean to have been a part of the Northern Michigan community for 25 years?

Victoria Sutherland (VS): Since our “birthdate” in 1998, Northern Michigan has served as our backdrop and inspiration in producing a globally recognized media company. It has been incredible to be based in such a beautiful area in terms of nature as well as a cultured mindset by its residents. Our region supports so many independent bookstores, community libraries, museums and music venues and we have worked with a lot of talented local staff who are dedicated to the arts.

25 years of Foreword Reviews

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RS: What opportunities do our community members have to get involved with Foreword?

VS: Our company is dedicated to helping readers find more diverse voices as well as discovering books that might otherwise go unnoticed in the chaos of publishing done by the Big 5 mega-publishing houses. Beyond using our digital and print content as a resource for finding your next best read while supporting small businesses around the world, we are interested in having avid readers, who can also write, join our team as reviewers. In addition, we are always looking for donation points of our excess books that are submitted for review. We have several volunteers who periodically pick up bins of children’s books to deliver to area schools and local families in need, but we would enjoy more help distributing adult books where there is need.

First Foreword Cover

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First-ever cover of Foreword Reviews in 1998.

2021 Foreword cover

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A more recent 2021 cover of Foreword Reviews.

RS: What can children, families or individuals do this summer to make sure that reading is a priority?

VS: There is a magic in books that is hard to mimic with computers or TV. A healthy start to every child’s intellectual life is to feed that curiosity and make sure books are available and accessible in the home. Bookstores and libraries often feature reading hours for kids. I often see a good selection of children’s and young adult books at local thrift stores as well. Encouraging a bit of balance in a child’s life with guidelines that include an equal division of outdoor time, screen time and reading won’t be difficult to enforce if the habit is started early. Ask your local professionals like teachers, librarians, booksellers and grandparents for help with reading ideas before school lets out, my guess is they have a lot of suggestions to keep families engaged with a book. Keeping up with Foreword will also provide some great ideas for children and adults of all ages, no matter what your interests.

Foreword Reviews logo

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More on Foreword Reviews

What role does Foreword Reviews play in the publishing industry, and why is it important?
Foreword is a discovery tool for the trade and avid readers to find great books from independent presses. Librarians and booksellers are inundated with new books, and curation in the form of reviews is critical to their acquisition processes. In the last couple of years, avid readers found us via our website as indie reviews bubbled to the top in their searches.

What are you most proud of from the past 25 years of publishing Foreword?
The spirit of indies is about exploring personal values, authenticity, and happiness. In that vein, I think the thing I am most proud of is that I was able to run a company and support a small staff of talented individuals who wished to stay in beautiful northern Michigan and pursue a profession that contributes to literary culture.

Where do you want to see Foreword go/grow in the future?
It seems like journals devoted to books are a dying breed, while interest in books and reading continues to grow, as it has for hundreds of years. However, the landscape for presses to get the attention of readers, or shelf space in bookstores and libraries, has become very competitive. Independent publishers are not going away, and by collaborating with each other, I think we, and they, stand a better chance of surviving against the bigger houses, and even thriving. I would like to see Foreword drive that community bond through events, expanded coverage online, and raising indie awareness on social media platforms.

Foreword Reviews staff

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