The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute is showcasing innovative ideas that were shared at the 2014 Walter B. Potter Sr. Conference for community newspapers. If you like ideas such as these, we encourage you to attend the 2016 Potter Conference, which will be held April 14 and 15 at RJI in Columbia, Missouri.

Many newspapers do commercial printing to bolster their bottom lines, but Kansas Publishing Ventures has printed books — more than 500 of them — and has not just added revenue but also built community pride.

The Hillsboro-based company includes three weekly newspapers — Hillsboro Free Press, Newton Now and The Clarion — in rural south central Kansas. It has printed books, primarily with historical themes, for 17 years for its local newspapers, as well as other companies, including news organizations, across the region and country. The majority of books the news organization has printed have been for other outlets because KPV’s three newspapers are located in rural communities where there aren’t as many people to buy books, says Joey Young, owner and publisher of KPV. However, one of the five projects the news organization has done for its local weekly newspapers generated as much as $10,000 in additional revenue, says Young.

The news organization has also been able to generate some additional revenue through its partnerships with other newspapers.  

“We do smaller margins for newspapers because we are all in it together,” Young says.

In addition to netting revenue on book sales, KPV also brings in profits from selling business profile pages that are printed on the books’ end sheets, says Young. The pages contain historical information and photos.  

Founding KPV publisher Joel Klaassen, who still works as a consultant at the organization, started the book printing division at the newspaper in 1998 when he launched the Hillsboro Free Press. He has worked in the printing business for 57 years including for a yearbook company and other book printing organizations. When he started the newspaper he decided to use his book printing skills and knowledge to add some additional revenue to his newspaper endeavors.

Local projects

Before starting a local pictorial book project, the news team will reach out to the community asking for photos from a particular era.

Local staff then typically spends the first three to five months of the nine to 12 month project gathering photos, organizing content, and writing up captions and stories for a book. The remainder of the time is spent finalizing book layouts, printing, and distributing books, says Klaassen.

Local book printing efforts allow the newspaper to connect and partner with the community more, says Young.

“You’ve got this really cool bond with your community because they’re really excited that they’re going to be part of this book,” he says.

One of the local books, which was filled with photos and stories about veterans, proved to popular with the community and county. It required the company to order more books to be printed than usual, says Young. Klaassen said he decided to do a veterans book because no one had ever printed a book like that in the county before and the news organization had access to the local veterans and their stories.

Young says Klaassen told him a story of how one man in particular thanked the newspaper for recognizing veterans’ service to the country.

“He was just really indebted to Joel,” Young says. “He said, ‘Oh man, nobody’s ever taken an interest like you guys have in what we did over there.”

 Once a book is ready to be printed for any of KPV’s three newspaper communities, the publisher bids out a project and signs a contract with a commercial printer, says Young. The newspaper publisher always pre-sells the books to cover the cost of printing.

Learn more about what it takes to custom print books

Jennifer Nelson  
Senior Information Specialist


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