Struggling to survive despite its parent organization’s financial problems, the loss of its director and now its interim director, the New York Center for Independent Publishing faces an uncertain future. There has been almost no activity since interim director Leah Schnelbach left the organization earlier this summer to return to school. Since then, the NYCIP Web site has been reduced to a small info page, and there has been no information from NYCIP on the future of the many programs, conferences, and publishing events it sponsors.
A spokesperson for the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, the parent organization of the NYCIP and funder of the center, said the NYCIP is “on hiatus,” but declined to provide any more information.
The NYCIP has been without a permanent director since early 2009, when Karin Taylor, executive director of NYCIP for more than 20 years, was laid off during the depths of the Great Recession. Commenting on Taylor’s departure last year, the GSMT, an educational, cultural, and social services organization founded in the 18th century and housed in a historic building on West 44th Street in New York City, cited the need to reduce expenses as it worked to get its own financial house in order. While Schnelbach was named interim director, Taylor’s departure revealed organizational disputes between the GSMT and the NYCIP’s executive and advisory boards, which took a direct role in managing NYCIP and its programming. Following Taylor’s exit, several NYCIP board members resigned, and now the organization appears in limbo or worse, with no one in charge, no apparent staff or volunteers, no events set, and no information available from GSMT on NYCIP’s future.
Originally founded as the Small Press Center in 1984, the New York Center for Independent Publishing provides a variety of services, seminars, and conferences for writers and for independent and nonprofit presses. The NYCIP is noted for its annual Small Press Book Fair and for sponsoring National Small Press Month every March in addition to the New York Round Table Writers Conference. The NYCIP also sponsored the Poor Richard Award, which was presented annually to an independent publisher for outstanding contributions to independent publishing. Past recipients of the award include Barney Rosset, Esther Margolis, Peter Mayer, and Peter Workman.