The Local Lit Scene Gets Busy Online

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 10, 2010 7:20PM

2010_11ChicagoPublishesLogo2.JPG If the literary world has learned one thing about its sometimes rocky relationship with the Web, it’s this: the publishing industry and its literary communities must absolutely find a way to use the new technologies of the digital age in order to grow and flourish. And although Chicago has long been a nurturing environment for readers, writers and publishers, the city didn’t have an online hub for literary minds to connect with each other or to find information. Until yesterday, that is, when the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs launched two new websites.

ChicagoPublishes.com focuses on Chicago’s publishing industry and provides related news, a comprehensive literary events calendar and an exhaustive database of 311 Chicagoland publishers. Its partner site, CAR-Literary, is a new section on ChicagoArtistsResource.org. The CAR-Literary section is a platform for community-submitted jobs and calls for submissions, as well as articles and essays from writers and publishers working in the field. Though the two sites are a bit different in their focus, they are built to complement each other.

“A healthy publishing industry and a dynamic literary scene are two distinct, yet complementary, pieces of what any place needs in order to be a “book culture”—that is, a place that reveres the importance of the written word,” said Danielle Chapman, the Director of Publishing Industry Programs for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. “ChicagoPublishes.com and CAR-Literary are intended to find and showcase this culture where it exists and to provide some connective tissue between its disparate parts.”

Chapman also stressed that these two sites will give all those involved in the local publishing and literary scene - Chicago writers, publishers and key players in the industry - a way to enter and influence the broader conversation about how the publishing world and literature itself is changing. “Conversations like that need to be able to live on the Web, so that anyone from any place can discover them, and so that ideas like these — which happen to come from people in Chicago — can help shape the future of publishing,” she said.