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A Line of Books
45th Parallel opens in Winthrop

The Methow Valley is now home to a book publicity company with a global view and reach: 45th Parallel Communications represents “fine independent publishers” according to owner Jennifer Abel Kovitz.

photoJennifer Abel Kovitz started in the publishing business promoting books like this one, made completely by hand in India.

45th Parallel doesn’t publish books, they manage publicity for book publishers. “Authors aren’t hiring us, it’s their publishers,” she said.

On the rainy afternoon of her Grist interview, Abel Kovitz was busy moving into a pleasant well-lit space at 134 Riverside Avenue, on the second story above Noca Coffee House and the Nordic Ultratune ski shop in Winthrop.

In January, she will be joined by a full-time employee, Kelly Huffman from Seattle. “Kelly cannot join us until 2013 because she will be spending December traveling across Myanmar, visiting and supporting the country’s children’s libraries (talk about a kindred spirit!),” says the business’ website.

“I can do whatever we do anywhere,” Abel Kovitz said, but the business does need good internet connects - fiber-optic cable in this case. She is also on a first-name basis with people in the Winthrop Post Office: she depends on the U.S. Postal Service to get books where they need to go.

Usually Abel Kovitz will get a few advance copies - 120 or so - of the book that she will promote before it becomes available to buyers. She gets those copies into the hands of reviewers and reporters, to “generate a buzz” about the soon-to-be-published book. She puts together press kits and questions and answers about the book and authors. She gets authors on radio and television and tours that include talks in places like Seattle’s town hall, Portland’s OMSI, and the Seattle and King County libraries, as well as places like New York and into the electronic world.

For example, the Suzi Eszterhas children’s book series, Eye on the Wild, publicized by Abel Kovitz, was mentioned on, and Eszterhas’ children’s books feature her wildlife photography: already published are books on gorillas, cheetahs, lions, and brown bears. Coming in January are orangutans and sea otters.

Abel Kovitz said her work is highly varied. “I would be very bored if I could tell you what my day looks like every day,” she said. She does have to travel. “I go to Europe and Asia a fair amount.” Right now she makes connections from Wenatchee or Seattle but she has been thinking about flight connections from the valley.

Abel Kovitz has a soft spot for teachers and librarians and books made of actual paper, but “a lot of our books are e-books too,” she said. “We do publicity for both” versions of the book. She said they work with the whole range of publications “and that’s fun.”

The nine books currently highlighted on the 45th Parallel website have these titles: The Night Life of Trees, the Great Race, Gorilla, The Art of Cooking with Vegetables, Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery, From the Mouth of the Whale, Shoot It, Shiro, and Trickster.

Abel Kovtiz’ career started in a colorful way. She moved to India to work with India-based Tara Books. She lived there a year and then came back and opened up an office in Seattle, doing publicity for Tara Books and a growing number of other independent publishers.

The first book she promoted was a hand-made Tara Book silk-screened on hand-made paper. Typically, Tara Books puts out 3,000 to 5,000 of such a book, she said.

Abel Kovitz is Canadian, and grew up in the province of Ontario. “Seattle is the smallest place I’ve ever lived before the Methow.”

She and her husband Jeff live near Winthrop. “We’re on month three,” in the Methow Valley she said, and they’re loving it. She spoke of the luxury of going on a long hike with her dog and having the trail all to herself. And she is enjoying the valley residents she has met - their friendliness reminds her of Canadians. Her link to the valley came through friend Casey Bouchard, who runs Methow Recycling Roundup with his partner, Joseph Weaver.


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