Almost four decades after Richard Grossinger and Lindy Hough founded North Atlantic Books in Vermont, the press, which has been in Berkeley, Calif., since 1977, continues to evolve within the body, mind, and spirit segment. From a two-person operation with roots in the poetry journal Io that published such stellar poets as Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, Ed Sanders, and Diane di Prima, NAB has published 1,500 titles, with nearly 1,000 still in print, and has a staff of 24. “The body, mind, and spirit market has changed,” said Kat Engh, NAB’s community outreach and new media specialist. “It’s more mainstream now. In times of crisis, people are looking for alternative approaches to self-help.”
To keep pace with changing tastes, the press recently introduced new themes to its list of categories, including spiritual consciousness and activism. Two examples of this expansion are Andrew Harvey’s Radical Passion: Sacred Love and Wisdom in Action, released this month, and Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein, which has 18,000 copies in print since its release in July 2011. NAB is also publishing fiction, and Angels Beneath the Surface by Mitja Cander and Tom Priestly is its first collection of short stories. “As a nonprofit we feel it’s important to publish works by authors whose voices are vital but underrepresented,” Engh said. The same applies to NAB’s Io poetry series. A tribute to the press’s literary roots, it was launched in 2009 and has grown to 15 titles. The list represents lesser-known poets such as Lenore Kandel, who was a vital player in San Francisco’s beat scene; her Collected Poems was released in April 2012.The company’s newest imprint is Evolver Editions, started in 2011 in cooperation with Evolver LLC, which publishes the online magazine Reality Sandwich, and which now has 15 titles in print.
North Atlantic is also expanding the reach of its established authors through new formats. Besides CDs and DVDs, it just released the Sirian Starseed Tarot deck by metaphysical author Patricia Cori after previously publishing eight of her books. In addition, the press is selling e-chapters of Robert Schwartz’s Your Soul’s Plan: Discovering the Real Meaning of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born, its first foray into this kind of sales format, with chapters selling for $3.99 each. “We continue to explore the possibilities of alternative formats,” said Engh, “including enhanced e-books, audiobooks, and more.” All titles are released simultaneously in print and digital, and NAB recently released Sacred Economics and Tom Atlee’s Empowering Public Wisdom as e-books under the Creative Commons licensing terms.
The publisher started the NAB Communities interactive social network and Web journal (nab.com/home.php) at the 2011 BEA, and the site’s communities—Nourish, Wisdom, Wellness, and Culture—are monitored and updated by North Atlantic staffers Talia Shapiro, Nick Sanchez, and Engh, each of whom writes a weekly newsletter for specific communities. The site has more than 5,500 members who are able to participate in author podcasts and webinars, forums where users can connect both with one another and NAB authors, regular giveaways, author articles, and event updates. In the future there will also be NAB Communities book clubs as well.
As NAB approaches its 40th anniversary, Hough has retired, and although Grossinger remains publisher of North Atlantic Books, much of the day-to-day functions of the company fall to associate publisher and managing director Doug Reil. Reil, who has been with the press for five years, attributed its longevity to loyal customers and authors. “North Atlantic Books is fortunate to enjoy strong long-term support while also finding many new readers in our various publishing niches,” he said. “And while we publish in a variety of subject areas, from alternative health and practical systems to new consciousness and visionary spirituality, the common thread is a fundamental message of transformation that is ultimately one of hope, compassion, and healing. This message clearly resonates with a wide audience as more and more people seek positive change in their own lives and the world.”