The last year at Chelsea Green Publishing couldn't have been better. Not only did the house report another increase in revenue—see PW's fast-growing small press feature (Mar. 6)—but in an unusual example of burying the hatchet, Chelsea Green publisher Margo Baldwin has reunited professionally with former Context Books publisher Beau Friedlander.
At one point, Friedlander and Baldwin were very close professionally—so close that Baldwin loaned him $135,000 to help out during Context Books' financial problems in 2002. But in 2003 Friedlander was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy (PW, Dec. 8, 2003), was unable to repay the loan and relations between the two got ugly. In what may be the feel-good publishing story of the year so far, not only are the two friends again, but Friedlander is now director of marketing and sales for Chelsea Green.
The two began to patch things up after Friedlander spotted George Lakoff's bestselling Don't Think of an Elephant last summer and sent Baldwin a note praising the book. "My wife thought I was crazy," said Friedlander. "But I wanted to try and make things right. Unfortunately when I started Context, my focus was on books, not on the business side, which ended up a wreck."
Baldwin said that before their financial conflict, she was a friend and an admirer of Friedlander's publishing expertise and his anti—Iraq war politics. She had even considered acquiring Context Books and bringing Friedlander to Chelsea Green back in 2002. "We re-connected last summer," said Baldwin, "and kind of repaid each other on a karmic level."
After exchanging a few e-mails, Baldwin mentioned she needed marketing help and Friedlander sent her his résumé. "I believe the right people show up at the right time," said Baldwin. Friedlander lives in Brooklyn and commutes to Chelsea Green's Vermont offices three days a week. "It's important that he gets up here," said Baldwin, "and it's great to have someone in New York."
Chelsea Green hit the jackpot with both Elephantand Crashing the Gates by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga. Now Baldwin and Friedlander (who has written a novel that will be published by Viking in 2007) are at work on what they expect to be Chelsea's next big book, Through the Eye of the Storm: A Book Dedicated to Rebuilding What Katrina Washed Away by Cholene Espinoza, an Air Force Academy graduate, pilot and reporter.