Great Books from the Great Plains
Since 1987

Welcome to Ex Machina Books & Art, the online avatar of Ex Machina Publishing Company, based in Sioux Falls, S.D. Ex Machina (pronounced ecks-MACK-in-nah) means "from the machine" in Greek, and represents the importance of the computer in the publication of information and entertainment in our time. The press is devoted to the publication of work reflecting the life and culture of the Upper Great Plains and to the promotion of the best art and writing of that culture.

Choose from the following categories to find out more about us:

Our Story

Affiliation w/Authors & Publishers

Affiliation w/Retailers & Distributors

Affiliation w/Artists & Galleries

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Our Story

Ex Machina Publishing Company was started in the spring of 1987 with the production of a small book of poetry and art by Clara Hilleson, Steadfast, but its first major publication came in the fall of that year, Prairie Beat, by Kim Ode, a popular columnist for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Kim's work was so admired by South Dakota audiences that the Argus printed a page of letters praising her writing when she left the paper. The collected columns in Prairie Beat, augmented by photographs, many of them by Kim's husband, professional photographer John Danicic, was an instant best-seller and encouraged the fledgling press to undertake similar projects.

There followed a book of humor, Double-Parked on Main Street (1988), a collection of columns by South Dakota native David A. Fryxell, with illustrations by his wife Lisa; a compilation of profiles about people prominent in South Dakota history, South Dakota 99 (1989), written by the staff of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader; and The Woster Brother' Brand (1990), a highly successful compendium of stories by popular South Dakota writers Jim, Terry, and Kevin Woster.

A Major Departure

In the 1990s, Ex Machina undertook a major departure with the publication of a translation of Michael Holzach's popular book, The Forgotten People: A Year Among the Hutterites (1993). This work, originally published in Germany as Das vergessene Volk and translated by Stephan Lhotzky, offered insights into one of the region's least-known minorities and led to an alliance with Sam Hofer, the principal purveyor of Hutterite literature in Canada. Hofer, whose own writing explores the Hutterite experience, distributed The Forgotten People in Canada, and Ex Machina in turn became the distributor of Hofer's books in the United States.

In 1993 as well, Ex Machina for the first time undertook the publication of a completely original work, The Bet On It Book of South Dakota Trivia by Stephen C. Bakken, with cartoons by world-class artist Carl Grupp. Another original work, Drop Him Till He Dies (1994), by C. John Egan Jr., told the amazing story of an Irish immigrant accused of killing his wife in Dakota Territory and the victim of a grisly hanging which required him to be dropped three times before his death was accomplished, only to be exonerated years later by the deathbed confession of his daughter.

Now Comes Fiction

The entrance into crime literature with Drop Him Till He Dies emboldened Ex Machina to attempt an original work of fiction, Drive-By (1995), by William J. Reynolds, the latest in his series featuring the private detective Nebraska, who is based in Omaha. The press also took on the distribution of Ron Robinson's Thunder Dreamer, published by the University of South Dakota Press, and the publication and distribution of other Robinson work, including, in the new millennium, Diamond Trump.

Meanwhile, Ex Machina expanded into corporate and institutional publishing with three books for The Good Samaritan Society, Centered on Caring (1997) for the society's 75th anniversary; Seasons of Change: Meeting the Challenge of a Nursing Home (1997), a reprint of the inspirational book by Jeri Lee-Hostetler; and Following In His Steps: The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society 1922-1997 (1998), a history by Lynwood E. Oyos.

Caring has been a strong interest for Ex Machina from the beginning, and that interest led to the publication of the poetry of Jerome W. Freeman, much of which deals with situations involved in caring. His book Starting From Here (1996) balanced poetry with images of the world-famous pottery of Minnesota artist Richard Bresnahan to form a fascinating symbiotic relationship. In 1999 Ex Machina published The Call to Care: Dimensions, Dilemmas, and Directions of Caring for The Center for Ethics and Caring at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls. The work --- edited by Arthur Olsen, Jerome Freeman, Mary Auterman, and Ron Robinson --- combined original introductions, essays, and poetry with reprints of classics related to caring.

Ex Machina Publishing is recognized today as one of the leading publishers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in South Dakota, and as a distributor of works relating to the Upper Great Plains. It takes as part of its mission the promotion of the art and writing of the region, and with this web site hopes to celebrate the rich cultural life of the Plains.

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Authors & Publishers

We welcome inquiries about how authors and other publishers may become affiliated with Ex Machina. Our intention is to be cooperative rather than competitive with others working toward the goal of spreading the good word about Great Plains literature and art.

We are currently affiliated with authors such as Bruce Blakel and William J. Reynolds and publishers such as the Center for Western Studies, the Center for Ethics and Caring, and Samuel Hofer Publications.

Publishers, including self-published authors, may contact us about affiliation possibilities. We may act either as an e-retailer or as a distributor for the books we represent on this site. As an e-retailer, we ask for a 40 percent discount on the retail price of books represented, the same discount asked by most bookstores. If we act as distributor for your books, we ask for a 50 percent discount on the retail price. We regularly sell books to library suppliers such as Baker & Taylor and Brodart and to retailers such as Barnes & Noble and We cannot guarantee that books we represent will be picked up by such national firms, but we can furnish greater exposure of your books through our web site and our catalog.

We are always interested in new manuscripts from writers in our region. We are, however, a small press by standards set by New York publishers, and publish only two or three books a year, at best. Please feel free to inquire about the possibility of publishing your work. If the book you propose sounds promising, we will ask to see more of the manuscript. If your work is accepted for publication, you will be offered a standard author contract which gives you 10 percent of the retail price for books sold. Note: We are not a "vanity" publisher, we will never ask a fee or a subsidy for the publication of your book, and we will market accepted work to the best of our ability.

We decide on possible affiliations based upon the relevance of the work to the culture of the Upper Great Plains, upon its commercial viability, and upon its literary quality.

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Retailers & Distributors

Ex Machina has been selling books to retailers and distributors since its inception, and we welcome new affiliations. Not all books listed on this site are available for retail or wholesale distribution, however. Look for an asterisk (*) beside the title, indicating that the book may be purchased in quantity at discount by qualified dealers.

Terms and Conditions for Bookstores, Wholesalers, and Distributors:
Larger discounts and agreements on shipping may be negotiated with preferred distributors.

Books returned for refund must be suitably wrapped in protective covering. Books shopworn or damaged in shipping will not be accepted for refund.

Terms Effective 8/31/'00

Terms and conditions for retail sales may be found under

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Artists & Galleries

Artists represented in the Ex Machina Gallery pay no fee or commission to have their work displayed. We undertake the promotion of regional art as part of our mission, and we encourage artists and galleries to contact us about affiliation.

Artists are accepted on the basis of the artistic merit of their work, its appropriateness to our goal of promoting the culture of this region, and the residence of the artist in the Upper Great Plains. If we accept their work, we ask artists to submit slides or print photographs of at least eight representative pieces, along with details concerning their biography, their education, their artistic goals, and information about current, recent, or upcoming shows.

We will list qualified galleries and museums on our Links page in exchange for reciprocal promotion of our site. We are particularly interested in galleries and museums with an online presence.

We also encourage your suggestions about artists who might be considered for display in our gallery.

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Contact Us

You may contact Ex Machina several ways. Our mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, and fax number are listed in the righthand column. Or simply write a note to us using the form below with any questions or comments you may have. On Submit, it will be sent to us via e-mail. We will try to reply promptly.


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