Living Gold Press—Book Publishers Since 1996
By Melissa Mendonca
By Melissa Mendonca
Photo courtesy of Living Gold Press
Jill Livingston will laughingly refer to herself as a road freak. She's one who will pull over to read historic markers on road trips. She takes note of old bridges and the dates and stories behind their construction. She has a keen eye for the older sections of Highway 99 and records where remnants can be found.
Twenty-one years ago she compiled all the knowledge she had about a section of Highway 99 into a book: “That Ribbon of Highway, Highway 99 from the Oregon Border to Sacramento.”
It was a labor of love that she and her sister, Kathryn Golden, endeavored to record a history that they found particularly intriguing. “We made the rounds of sending query letters out to different publishers and they weren't that thrilled,” she says of the early days.
“One of the publishers replied with a nice letter, which was kind of rare, and he said if we wanted it published we'd have to do it ourselves,” she adds.
With great determination – the self-publishing world was nothing like it is today – the sisters created Living Gold Press from their homes on the Klamath River just outside of Yreka. “That Ribbon of Highway” became the first of three
Highway 99 Ribbon of Highway books, and the press began publishing the works of others.
“We decided to go for it and then found there were a lot of people who were road freaks,” she says with a laugh. “There was demand. We found these people who were also interested and the books became popular.”
“That Ribbon of Highway II” chronicles Highway 99 from Sacramento to the Mexico border and won Best Regional History Book in 2011 from the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. “That Ribbon of Highway III” takes on the Pacific Northwest from the Siskiyou Summit through Oregon and Washington.
“We're both interested in history, particularly local or California history,” Livingston says of herself and her sister. “My sister is the artsy one. She does the artwork, I do the writing. We do the research together and we do the production work together.
“It's been interesting to see the whole change in the industry,” she says, noting that they have gone from doing paste-ups of pages to a wholly digital layout. “We get our books printed at big printing companies in the Midwest.” It's been a huge learning curve from the early days when they decided to figure out the business so “That Ribbon of Highway I” could be birthed through all of the changes in the industry and the inclusion of authors other than themselves.
Right now, the duo is focused on revamping some of their books that have gone out of print and updating others. “That Ribbon of Highway I” has just been revised, reissued and expanded with 72 additional pages.
While the sisters have enjoyed seeing their own books brought to life, they've also enjoyed the challenge of publishing for others. “Somehow we got into a birding niche,” laughs Livingston. It started with the “Klamath River Bird Finder” by friend Bob Claypole, an avid birder and local artist. “He handed it to us handwritten,” says Livingston. “It was kind of a local collaboration.”
From there, the press accepted works by Stan Harris, professor emeritus at Humboldt State University, and Harry G. Fuller, who brought the idea for a book on freeway birding. “His idea was that birders are traveling up and down the interstate for whatever reason, and they might want to stop somewhere to see what they can see.”
The duo is also revamping a Siskiyou County coloring book that has been popular among locals and tourists. “We have different things about Siskiyou County,” says Livingston, “hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, rodeos. In the back is a guide to each picture.” It's a great family guide, with kids enjoying the pages to color while their parents learn more about events and places in the county.
“The Klamath River Access Guide” is also popular for sharing official and unofficial places to access the river.
While Livingston and Golden didn't necessarily foresee the direction their publishing business would take them, they are happy with the outcomes so far. “We do intend to do something on the Redwood Highway, but I can't say when,” says Livingston. One thing is for sure, though: They will stay based in Siskiyou County. “We're long term residents and don't expect to be leaving here. I like it here.”