Utah publisher celebrates 25

  • Gibbs Smith in his office, painted by Randall Lake

  Twenty-five years ago in Layton, Utah, north of Salt Lake City, in an old barn owned by his mother-in-law, historian Gibbs Smith set up shop. He replaced the roof which had blown off in a storm, agreed to share one half with the cows, then started turning out books. A quarter of a century later, Smith's first book about the California gold rush is still in print and he publishes more than 50 books a year about Western culture. Smith's enduring themes are art, architecture, nature and the environment, but in the last decade he has embraced the cowboy culture as well. Don't Squat With Yer Spurs On!: A Cowboy's Guide to Life, is one of his best-selling titles, as are collections of cowboy poetry, recipes for the range and titles like Open Country and Where the Wind Lives. Smith sees the West as an isolated "colony within a country" exporting its culture in the form of trade items, such as his books. He says he aims to blur these colonial boundaries, while still preserving the wildness and spirit of the land.

The Gibbs Smith Books 25th Anniversary Fall Catalog, with its cover paintings by Gibbs Smith, can be obtained by writing P.O. Box 667, Layton, UT 84041 (800/421-8714).

* Pam Ostermiller
High Country News Classifieds