NewSouth, Inc., is co-owned by partners Suzanne La Rosa and Randall Williams . The company’s roots go back to 1984, when Williams proposed to a few other writers a concept for a cooperative that would be called the Black Belt Communications Group. In 1986, BBCG came into being as a publisher of magazines, newspapers, and newsletters. In 1989, BBCG, Inc., began publishing books under the Black Belt Press imprint. By 1996, BBP was the state’s leading independent publisher of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and folklore. In 1998, Williams recruited NYC publishing veteran Suzanne La Rosa, who joined BBP as publisher. In 2000, Williams and La Rosa became partners and renamed BBCG, Inc., as NewSouth, Inc. They launched NewSouth Books as an Alabama-based independent publishing house specializing in regional books of national interest.
As of 2022, NewSouth Books had some 400 active titles, published 20 to 25 new titles a year, was distributed nationally by Ingram Publisher Services, and was among the leading independent book publishers in the United States. La Rosa and Williams viewed their publishing program as mission-based. In an article about NewSouth, the Louisville Courier Journal observed that the company was a “risk-taking, social conscious publisher.” “We gravitate to material that enhances our understanding of who we are and which asks us to stretch in our understanding of others,” said La Rosa. “Our publishing program is defined by its strong cultural component.” Williams added that the house’s titles were not exclusively Southern, but that its program specialized in books on Southern history and culture, “especially those which examine the role of individuals in creating or contending with the change and conflict which came to the region in the post-World War II era. We believe strongly in the transformative power of information and knowledge, and we hope that the books we publish offer collective insight that helps the region grow toward ‘the beloved communiy’ and the fulfillment of the democratic promise.”
In July 2022, the NewSouth Books imprint and its catalog were acquired by the University of Georgia Press, based in Athens, Georgia. All NewSouth titles remain in print and distributed through UGAP, and the imprint will continue to publish 10 to 15 titles each year. La Rosa continues to advise UGAP on acquisitions for the imprint, and Williams continues to edit selected titles.
Meanwhile, its publishing operations sold, NewSouth, Inc.’s world headquarters remain in historic downtown Montgomery, in a 1960s-era building formerly known as the Montgomery Shoe Factory, a shoe-repair business. La Rosa and Williams changed the sign on the front to Montgomery Book Factory, kept the iconic boot on top of the two-story building, and installed The NewSouth Bookstore on the first floor where there was retail space. The bookstore, now in its third decade of business, has recently expanded and sells new and used books, specializing in Southern history and culture. The store actively hosts book talks and cultural programs.