Jill Schoolman, founder and publisher of the nonprofit publisher Archipelago Books, sent an email yesterday asking for donations on what has come to be known as Giving Tuesday: the first Tuesday following the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping bonanza.
"Archipelago cannot continue to operate without your support," Schoolman wrote, adding: "We need your help. These past nine months have been challenging, to say the least. Please make a donation if you can."
Schoolman told PW that, while the publishing house isn't in danger of going out of business, sales are down significantly, and all the financial support that was available as a result of the pandemic has been used to keep the company's four employees working and the books going out the door. "We're publishing new books and there are printing bills and advances for authors and translators coming due," she said. "Some of the support we have relied on to pay for translations isn't coming—40% of our books are unsupported. It can be hard to stay afloat when there is limited cash flow."
Previously, Archipelago raised money through auctions and ran a popular annual gala event, the company's main fundraiser, which was cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Schoolman hopes to raise $30,000 before the end of the year. One incentive to give today is that the Carl Lesnor Family Foundation will match contributions up to $10,000. "Part of the money will be used to fund a fellowship to fund a new internship program we plan to launch that will focus on training BIPOC candidates who want to work in publishing and are interested in translation and international publishing," said Schoolman.
She added that the company has several books forthcoming that have potential for strong sales, including Salt Water by Josep Pla, translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush, publishing this week, as well as In the Land of the Cyclops, a new collection of essays by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken and publishing in January. "Book sales have been down 20 to 30% for the last nine months," Schoolman said. "We just hope the bookstores can remain open and that everyone can recover from this soon."
One organization that helped Archipelago earlier in the year was the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), which helped administer the Literary Arts Emergency Fund together with the Academy of American Poets and the National Book Foundation. The fund offered $3.5 million in emergency funding to 282 nonprofit literary arts organizations. (Archipelago received a $25,000 grant in September.) CLMP also sent out an email asking for support for the organization, which represents some 600 small presses and magazines.
Sometimes, when a company asks for money, it isn't looking merely to stay afloat, but to build momentum. Haymarket Books, the radical, nonprofit publisher which had success with several social justice titles this year, wrote in an email: "Our mission is to publish books that contribute to struggles for social and economic justice. We strive to make our books a vibrant and organic part of social movements and the education and development of a critical, engaged, international left." The company noted that it had recently launched Haymarket Books LIVE!, an online platform for free, radical political education, which has hosted more than 120 events and reached more than a million people.
"Looking ahead to 2021, we have even more big plans—new books, more events, and a lot more—which we can’t wait to share with you," the company wrote. "Please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to sustain Haymarket’s work in the coming year."