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In 2013, the Jack W. Swanson scholarship was established to bring book publishing interns or first- or second-year publishing-house employees to a PubWest conference.

The scholarship was originally funded from the sale of rights from Rail Ventures and by private donations from PubWest members who wish to encourage the next generation of book publishers. Here's How to Apply.


Jack W. Swanson loved book publishing and railroads. After retiring as Secretary to the Board of Norwest Bank in Denver he and his wife Doris moved to Ouray, Colorado and began traveling North America by rail. In 1982 they started a regional publishing house called Rail Ventures Publishing.

Jack served as the Treasurer of Rocky Mountain Book Publishers Association, precursor to PubWest, from 1986 to 1990. His big book was Rail Ventures, a mile-by-mile travelogue of every major passenger rail route in North America. The seventh and last edition of Rail Ventures was published in 1996 by Travis Ilse Publishers. Jack was also an investor in the Sierra Madre Express that goes from Tucson to the Copper Canyon in Mexico.

Jack died in 1997 but his work lives on through this scholarship and as part of a website called Vacations by Rail ( that bought the rights to Rail Ventures and incorporated some of Jack’s work into their website.

The Jack W. Swanson scholarship was established in 2013 to bring book publishing interns or first or second-year publishing house employees to a PubWest conference. The scholarship is funded from the sale of the rights, by royalties from Rail Ventures, and by private donations from PubWest members who wish to encourage the next generation of book publishers.


Claire Curry, 2024 Recipient

“I was so excited to receive this scholarship to attend PubWest 2024! The conference provided wonderful opportunities to connect with experts in the publishing industry who engaged with me in conversations about topics ranging from AI to manga to book design. So many people happily offered their advice on navigating a career in publishing. I learned a lot more about AI, leadership, printing, and supply chains. I truly appreciated this opportunity!”

Brooke Shannon, 2023 Recipient

"The 2023 PubWest Conference was phenomenal. The networking experiences, sessions, and face-to-face interaction were truly great. I feel honored to not only have attended, but been able to share an important message with members/printers/publishers for the Speedy Spiels. I gained a PLETHORA of knowledge, especially about the printing industry and paper companies. Thank you for this opportunity!"

Akram “Aki” Barabadi, 2021 Recipient
“My interest in publishing dates back to my Iranian childhood when I used to sit with my brother and sisters to help with our family's publishing business: preparing books, greeting cards, and calligraphy silk threads. Later on, my enthusiasm towards publishing deepened when I chose to major in English Literature as an undergraduate. Iran’s publishing industry is undergoing fundamental changes with the introduction of new technologies and digital lifestyles, which motivated me to learn more about the publishing industry worldwide. Now I'm excited that I have the chance to network with industry professionals through this conference!”

Leah Hernandez, 2020 Recipient
“When I received the PubWest Jack W. Swanson scholarship the course of my career and Young Authors Publishing changed completely. Prior to attending the conference I had never been connected with anyone in the publishing industry. I received new mentors in the industry and found a new distribution home. I can say without a doubt that the growth of YAP is directly connected to receiving the PubWest Jack W. Swanson Scholarship.”

Alyssa McDougle, 2018 Recipient
“I am so glad I was able to attend the PubWest conference due to the Jack W. Swanson scholarship. The opportunity to engage with so many knowledgeable people within publishing was an experience I am extremely thankful for. The conference allowed me to obtain a greater understanding of what all aspects of publishing are facing in our current world and provided great information on how publishers use innovative tools and ideas to navigate this constantly changing world (and profession). This opportunity has been the perfect stepping stone in motivating me to become even more involved with all aspects of publishing and help my generation get more involved as well.”

Katelin Ross, 2018 Recipient
“I had such an amazing experience at the PubWest conference and came back to work feeling very inspired. I am grateful for the Jack W. Swanson scholarship opportunity and resonated with this year’s theme, “Raising Voices: Creating a Vibrant Publishing Future.” There was so much to take away: we learned different ways to optimize our top accounts, how to reach new readers, and discussed the importance of bringing diversity into the industry. It was easy to engage in every session, keynote, and roundtable. I learned so much and came away with a ton of new ideas for our books!”

Rachel Noorda, 2017 Recipient
“I owe so much of my career opportunities and connections to the Jack W. Swanson scholarship. After winning the scholarship in 2017, the networking opportunities provided by the PubWest conference not only enriched and increased my capacity in a small publishing company, but also led to wonderful academic career opportunities, including my new position as Director of the graduate program in Book Publishing at Portland State University. I am so grateful to this wonderful organization and scholarship, and I look forward to many more career-building PubWest experiences.”

Karen Bullock, 2016 Recipient
“A few years out from receiving The Jack W. Swanson scholarship, I can see its positive effects rippling throughout my publishing career and place in the PubWest community. Attending the 2016 PubWest conference lit a fire under my passion for this industry, and meeting so many incredible, vibrant individuals has led to lasting friendships and valuable business connections. I learn new skills each conference that I attend, and stay connected with my colleagues throughout the year at local networking and development events. Now I am on the Board of Directors for PubWest, and am proud to be an integral part of this organization that has benefited me and other young publishers in so many ways.”

Sarah Gorecki, 2015 Recipient
“Each year I leave the PubWest conference with renewed connections to my publishing colleagues, new friends, and fresh ideas for how to get things done at the office. There was lots to learn at the 2018 conference—including better ways to manage virtual editorial teams, technology tricks for publishing workflow, and strategies for design and editorial teams to communicate more effectively. PubWest has been vital to my publishing career since receiving the Jack W. Swanson scholarship in 2015.”

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