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After decades of toiling in quiet, TCU Press is stepping out.

By Nancy Allison

It's one of the smallest (if not THE smallest) university presses in the country. For that reason, many alumni may be unaware that TCU Press exists, said director Judy Alter '70 (PhD).
But that is apt to change this year. The press, now celebrating its 41st birthday, is in a good place. This fall it even experienced a few firsts.

With the October publication of Denis Defibaugh's vivid photographs in Day of the Dead and the resplendent cartography in Going to Texas: Five Centuries of Texas Maps, TCU Press brought forth its first four-color coffee table style books.

And with the help of its tiny but powerful staff (Alter, editor Susan Petty and production manager Melinda Esco) it has bumped up production from a dozen to 20 books per year.

Alter, a novelist and historical writer with a passion for Texas history, has been the director of TCU Press for 20 years. Under her leadership, the press has become known for its focus on the American West, Mexican and Texas history and literature, border and women's studies, and Fort Worth history and memoir.

She describes their book list as scholarly but accessible, and is confident that the press has hit its stride, with two new series, a nearly doubled title list, and more book proposals 'worthy of close reading' than ever before.

Three forthcoming titles investigate Texas onscreen, on foot and on the radio. Don Graham's State Fare: An Irreverent Guide to Texas Movies, takes readers through the worst and best of Texas film. Three friends in their 70s walk 450 miles to discover the state in Jon McConal's A Walk Across Texas. And Texas Country Singers showcases 27 Texas born singers from Gene Autry to Lefty Frizzell.

For a glimpse of Texas through the eyes of its writers and historians, there's W.C. Jameson's On Writing in the Lone Star State, featuring 14 Texas writers describing Texas and its hold on their work and imaginations, and Border, historian Leon Metz' chronicle of the 2,000-mile border between Texas and Mexico.

And thanks to The Center for Texas Studies and a Vision in Action grant, the press has also launched two new series. The biography series reveals notable, overlooked Texans such as San Antonio teacher and historic site preservationist Adina de Zavala. The Texas poets laureate series will eventually number seven books. It began with Alan Birkelbach, Texas poet laureate for 2005, and continues with Red Steagall, songwriter/poet Steven Fromholz, and Larry D. Thomas, Texas poet laureate for 2008.

TCU Press belongs to a consortium run by Texas A&M University, which is in charge of all orders. TCU alumni receive a 20 percent discount on all books."

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