5 Visionary Book Publishing Houses

While major publishing houses may have more resources, smaller presses are no less accomplished in producing unique, worthwhile books. In addition to giving a platform to talented fledgling authors, these companies tend to cater to more niche interests by specializing in specific genres or subject matters. For those seeking great reads, here are, in no particular order, some noteworthy publishers to check out.

First up at #1 is Keokee Books, an imprint of Keokee Co. Publishing, Inc. in Sandpoint, Idaho. Founded in 1990, the company specializes in books and magazines that focus on the theme of "our place in the world." Titles cover everything from outdoor sports and human and natural history to memoirs and works by regional authors. A small independent press, it publishes only two to three titles per year.

Founded in 1990, the company specializes in books and magazines that focus on the theme of "our place in the world."

In addition to producing its own proprietary books and magazines, Keokee provides myriad services for businesses and individuals, including authors seeking to self-publish. Services include manuscript evaluation, cover design, copy editing and proofreading, and consultation in marketing and distribution. The group also has expertise in publishing to the Internet, offering website design, hosting, and online marketing.

For #2 we get Black Rose Writing. Based in Castroville, Texas, this independent publishing house features books from an array of fiction, non-fiction, and children's genres. The company takes full advantage of modern printing technology with print-on-demand services, and provides authors with various promotion opportunities as well as broad distribution.

Titles published by Black Rose Writing span the full gamut of genres, including horror, romance, young adult, mystery and suspense, fantasy, and biography. Among its featured authors are the award-winning Joe Siple, author of "The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride," and "Seinfeld" writer Andy Cowan, who penned the humorous memoir "Banging My Head Against the Wall."

Next at #3 is Second Story Press. This Canadian company was co-founded in 1988 by Margie Wolfe and three other women, who were dedicated to publishing feminist-inspired books for adults and young readers. The press looks for stories that feature strong female characters and explore themes of social justice, human rights, equality, and ability issues.

As part of its mandate, Second Story Press publishes books that reflect the diversity of world cultures and the people who belong to them. Its titles cover subjects such as youth activism, history and social studies, character education, and the LGBTQ community. Other unique offerings include dual-language Indigenous picture books, as well as various series devoted to such topics as Holocaust remembrance and Canada's Feminist History Society.

For #4 we come to Annick Press, an independent children's publisher based in Toronto, Canada. Founded in 1975, it publishes both fiction and nonfiction for toddlers through to young adults. Committed to youth literature that reflects the world of the contemporary child, Annick strives to produce educational, entertaining books that will spark a lifelong love affair with the written word.

Among the publisher's offerings are classic picture books such as Robert Munsch's "The Paper Bag Princess," an international bestseller, and Kathy Stinson's "Red is Best." Middle grade titles cover diverse topics such as Indigenous residential schools, space exploration, and environmental awareness. Annick also produces award-winning Y.A. titles including "Stormy Seas," "Fire Song," and "Funny, You Don't Look Autistic."

Finally, arriving at #5 is Top Shelf Productions, which has published popular and critically acclaimed graphic novels since 1997. Now an imprint of IDW Publishing, it continues to showcase the vanguard of the medium, aiming to reflect the artistry and sophistication of comics. Top Shelf publishes works in both mature-reader and all-ages categories.

The imprint's catalog encompasses a range of themes, including coming-of-age, history, erotica, science fiction, and surreal/experimental. Among its renowned titles are Alan Moore's and Eddie Campbell's "From Hell," Kim Dwinell's "Surfside Girls," and Kevin O'Neill's "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." It also produced the "March" series, a graphic novel memoir by US Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis.