In 2008, South End Press went into a tail spin along with the economy. Despite its best efforts— a short-lived experiment collaborating with the Medgar Evers College campus of the City University of New York in 2010, and a fundraising campaign in 2012— the Boston-based progressive nonprofit could not dig its way out of debt. South End,which hasn’t published a new book in the past five years, ended its relationship with long-time distributor, Consortium, at the end of June, and is about to dissolve.
According to a South End author, who preferred to remain anonymous, the publisher notified its authors by mail that they can get their rights back. They also have the option to receive 40%-60% of their unpaid royalties—royalties haven’t even been reported for at least three years—or to wait and see what happens when the press is dissolved. Attorney Paul Sennott of Stern Shapiro Weisberg & Garin, who is listed as a contact in the letter, declined to comment on the status of South End.
Although the 37-year-old press offered to try to find another house that would take over the remaining titles on its list, some authors have already begun changing publishers. In June, PM Press published a new edition of Jeremy Brecher’s Strike!, which originally came out from South End.
Richard Balkin of The Ward & Balkin agency, who represents one of South End’s star authors, Howard Zinn, confirmed that “we had a hassle with South End, getting back rights to 10 of Howard’s books. And we have not received payment from them for several years.” The Zinn books were published in new editions late last year and early this year by Haymarket Press.
Starting in October, Haymarket will also begin republishing a dozen Noam Chomsky titles, which were originally published by South End. In August it will publish a new Chomsky work, Masters of Mankind, a collection of essays and lectures from 1969-2013.