As with most things Pittsburgh, I learn about the Littsburgh website through word of mouth. I expect a glorified literary calendar.
What I find is an online hub of literary resources. Not only does it dedicate an entire page to events, it showcases local author bios. Another page lists the city’s extensive literary organizations, and a third catalogs bookstores. There is a page solely for literary Pittsburgh in the news.
The site impresses me so thoroughly that I immediately e-mail to get my own author bio posted. A week later, in a coffeeshop, I meet Littsburgh’s three creators: Rachel Ekstrom Courage, Nick Courage and Katie Kurtzman.
All three work in publishing, and moved to Pittsburgh from New York City within the last year. Nick and Rachel Courage, spouses, work as a book-marketing consultant and a literary agent, respectively. Kurtzman runs her own publicity business.
Littsburgh is a passion project. “We felt there was a need, since there’s so much going on here,” says Rachel Courage. “And being in the industry — as well as being writers and readers and lovers of literature — we wanted to see all of that in one place.”
The idea, born from late-night conversations, is still very new. Nick Courage, the website’s developer, intended to do a soft launch, but Google picked it up unexpectedly. “We had like 3,000 unique hits in two days and realized we weren’t soft-launching anymore,” he says.
Littsburgh officially went live Aug. 19, and the three creators are visibly thrilled at its success thus far. “I could’ve used something like this when I was new to the city,” says Kurtzman, a University of Pittsburgh alum.
The page’s roster has expanded tremendously. Before launch, a half-dozen people were listed; now there are 84. “This is a rolling process,” says Nick Courage. “We are updating it every day.”
At the moment, its founders maintain Littsburgh pro bono. While they don’t run advertisements, they are not opposed to ads promoting the literary scene.
Littsburgh also hopes to market that scene to the national literary circuit. “A lot of people here know how awesome Pittsburgh is and how awesome the writing scene is,” says Rachel Courage. “But we wanted the world to know.”
“It’s our personal goal to rebrand Pittsburgh as Littsburgh — to have us seen as a national literary city,” adds Nick Courage.
An official launch event is in the works.