We would like to introduce you to our ‘new’ project: DNS Publications!
Nine months ago our monastery began DNS Publications, our own publishing house. Our monastery has always been known for its excellence in professional printing. Our printing press found a home in a museum some years ago as we went digital, but the tradition has continued.
Here is an interview with a sister who works in our publishing department.
Sister, how did DNS Publications begin? Accidentally. In August of 2011, Father Walter Wagner, OP preached our annual retreat and based his conferences on the Rule of Saint Augustine. After the retreat was over everyone was agreed that that was the best retreat we had ever had! Although the talks were recorded, I decided that I wanted to transcribe them for my own personal use as something I could go back to over and over again. When other sisters heard what I was doing they asked if I could also make copies for them. Then friars started hearing about it and asking for copies. One sister who has published with CreateSpace, a print-on-demand company run by Amazon.com, suggested that we use their printing services instead of printing copies on our printer and GBCing them, since this was turning into a bigger project than I had anticipated. Finally someone suggested we get permission to publish the book since there seemed to be so much interest in it. Fr. Walter, thankfully, agreed and approved the proof.
Is this Dominican Life? Yes, Dominican Life was published in March of this year and is available in paperback and kindle.
So how did it go from Dominican Life to what the monastery is doing now? Well, after Dominican Life we thought that we were done. Shortly before Dominican Life was made available, though, we decided to publish The Spirit of Saint Dominic by Fr. Fabio Giardini, OP. He had written this book for the Nuns but it had never been published. It is a fantastic book, but I actually had never read it before working on it because the formatting was not very reader-friendly.
Is The Spirit of Saint Dominic also available? It will be soon, hopefully by Christmas. We are just finishing the foreword now.
So then it was decided to become a publishing house? No. Again, we thought we were finished. But soon after, one of the sisters had the idea of re-publishing some of the novels by S.M.C. (Sr. Mary Catherine Anderson, OP) that had gone out of print. At this point we realized that we had started something; so we created a little logo and called ourselves DNS Publications.
How was the name created? When we published the Summit Choirbook we used ‘DNS’ to refer to ourselves. It has sort of stuck.
Where did your publisher’s logo come from? A greeting card! A young woman who had been a novice with us years ago had drawn the dog with ‘Dominicanes’ as a card. All we did was add 'DNS Publications' underneath it.
What is being published now? We just finished Brother Petroc’s Return which is S.M.C.’s most famous novel. The Chronicles of Thomas Frith, O.P. will also be done shortly. After that we’ll be working on Margaret, Princess of Hungary and Henry Suso-Saint and Poet.
Why these books in particular out of S.M.C.’s 70 or so works? Well, Brother Petroc is absolutely fantastic. It is the sort of good Catholic literature that is greatly wanting these days. The others, if you've noticed, are all Dominican. In The Chronicles the reader is introduced to many Dominican Saints and blessed, some well-known and some that most people have never heard of. Since the main character in the novel is a (fictional) contemporary of the Saints, it isn't mentioned which characters have now been canonized or beatified. It was really fun to come across a character and realize that it was the same man or woman that we pray to in the Litany of Dominican Saints! Margaret and Henry are not quite novels, not quite biographies, but both introduce you to a fantastic Dominican.
Okay, but what is the motivation behind republishing these books? Well, besides that they are good and no longer in print…of all the Orders in the Catholic Church, the Dominicans seem to be the least well known, except for a few of our Saints like Aquinas and Catherine of Siena. People especially know very little about the Nuns, our Saints, or our connection to the Friars. These books really help with that.
Which is your favorite book that DNS Publications has published? I have to say The Spirit of Saint Dominic. I love them all, but this book introduced me to Our Father Dominic and his character in a way that no other book that I’ve read about him has. Everyone knows about St. Francis of Assisi, but what do people know about Dominic besides that he was a preacher and founded the Dominicans? This book is about him, his spirit, his charism and therefore the charism and spirit he has bequeathed to us his sons and daughters. It is just very beautiful.
Has DNS Publications published anything else? Yes! Although The Spirit is my favorite book, the book that I’m most thrilled that we have published is The Life of Saint Agnes of Montepulciano by Blessed Raymond of Capua, OP. It is the first English version and was translated by our Sr. Mary Martin who had been working on it for years. Blessed Raymond’s life of St Catherine of Siena has been translated into English for awhile, but no one had bothered to translate Agnes! Agnes is special to us because, unlike Catherine, Agnes was a Nun of the Order and one of the few Dominican Nuns that have been canonized. (Catherine was a member of the Mantellate, a lay fraternity of the Order).
What is the most challenging aspect of publishing? Actually, I think that it is formatting the books for their Kindle Versions. Since we’ve never seen a book on Kindle (or Ipad, Iphone or KindleFire—the other electronics that use the Kindle Version), we don’t know what the book looks like when finished. We’ve seen thousands of printed paperbacks, so we know what we want in terms of formatting when we are working on a paperback; we know what will be readable and what will distract from the text. With Kindle we can’t really see what we are doing, which makes it difficult. We know that what we are seeing on the computer is not what it will look like on a Kindle. For example, I haven’t the slightest idea how footnotes work on a Kindle, but apparently they do…even though there are no proper pages. Right now we are sort of just hoping for the best and learning as we go along!
All books published by DNS Publications are available at our online Gift Shoppe. Kindle and paperback versions are also available at Amazon.com