Using grants and partnerships with academic institutions, Berkeley, Calif.—based Heyday Books has built a backlist of well-researched general-interest titles on California cultural and natural history. Its revenues have grown from around $400,000 three years ago to about $1.5 million today. Founded in 1974, the house is now transforming itself into a nonprofit firm, looking to use grants to secure its future, according to 61-year-old founder Malcolm Margolin. Margolin told PW that becoming a nonprofit will help support the press's editorial mandate and help secure its financial future.
The press is in expansion mode, with 13 employees, up from four just three years ago. Margolin expects to publish 20 books next year, also a major increase from a few years ago.
Much of the expansion comes from partnerships with cultural institutions. Next spring, Heyday will publish the first titles in its latest partnership, with the Irvine Foundation, seeded with a $500,000 grant. "Part of that grant was to move from for-profit to nonprofit status," said Margolin. "We will be nonprofit by the end of the year. As a literary cultural press, we need other associations." The Irvine project, which will publish new and out-of-print books about California's Central Valley, is much in the vein of the work the press has published in its 28-year history.
"A publisher who specializes in a state's natural and cultural history, such as Malcolm does, plays a critical role," observed Timothy Hudson, executive director for the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento, an organization Margolin has worked with for years. Hudson serves as an adviser to Heyday's California Legacy Series, a three-year multiple book project begun in association with Santa Clara University in 2000. This summer, the series was extended another three years.
"The books depend on scholarly expertise, but are not aimed at a scholarly audience," explained California Legacy series editor Terry Beers, an English professor at Santa Clara. Recent successes in the series include Death Valley in '49 by William Lewis Manly, a title originally published in 1894; and El Dorado by Bayard Taylor, first published in 1850.
Native American culture is one of Heyday's biggest publishing areas, with magazines and books on the topic. Margolin's 1978 book The Ohlone Way is still in print and has sold more than 100,000 copies. The house is increasing the number of titles on Japanese-American culture and its natural history titles also do well. The High Sierra of California by Gary Snyder and Tom Killon, an illustrated title inspired by 19th-century Japanese printmakers, has sold 10,000 copies.