The New Press finished 2017—its 25th anniversary year—with revenue once again topping $6 million. Although sales were down slightly from the house’s record year in 2016, in which sales of The New Jim Crow and Strangers in Their Own Land, as well as the election of President Trump, drove sales, publisher Ellen Adler said she considered 2017 to be another highly successful year.
As a nonprofit, the New Press does not strive for growth every year. Rather, Adler said, the focus remains on publishing books that make an impact on the country’s political and cultural debates.
What pleased Adler the most about 2017 was that while some of the company’s “marquee” titles (such as The New Jim Crow and Strangers in Their Own Land) sold well, a number of frontlist books exceeded expectations. Among those were Becoming Ms. Burton (winner of the NAACP Image Award as well as the inaugural Goddard-Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice); Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America; Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler (shortlisted for an NAACP Image Award); and Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.
Despite the public experiencing some “Trump fatigue,” Adler said she is confident the press’s 2018 list will still resonate with readers. While the publisher doesn’t necessarily publish books on trending topics, a number of the house's forthcoming titles address hot-button issues.
Denmark Vesey's Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy by Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts, which received a PW starred review, takes a look at Charleston and the history of slavery; A History of America in Ten Strikes by labor historian Erik Loomis should strike a chord given the recent teacher strikes, Adler said; and American Hate: Survivors Speak Out, is a collection of testimonials from people impacted by hate speech and hate crimes.
In August, the New Press will issue new paperback editions of James Loewen’s perennial bestsellers Lies My Teacher Told Me (which has sold almost two million copies) and Sundown Towns. The titles have been released by Simon & Schuster, but New Press took back the rights after the contract expired.
The press is also in the process of rolling out a new logo. "After years of living in black and white our new logo comes with a color palette!" Adler exclaimed.