A Better Business: New Society Publishers

A Better Business: New Society Publishers

Though we live in the age of information, where can you go to find voices your trust? information of integrity and inspiration can get lost in the noise of advertising fake news and pop science. Where can you go to find the knowledge that could change your life and empower you to live your highest potential?
New Society Publishers was originally founded in Philadelphia as a non-profit. Kip and Judith Plant, who ran their Canadian office acquired the company and in the Fall of 1996 and launched “New Society” as a for profit company with a new vision of how to do business

that we live in the age of information not every media source is equal information of integrity and inspiration can get lost in the noise of advertising fake news and pop science where can you go to find the knowledge that could change your life and empower you to live your highest potential new society publishers was originally founded in Philadelphia as a nonprofit they started as a social movement opposing the war in Vietnam nuclear weapons and nuclear power and publishing pamphlets on peace civil disobedience conflict resolution and social change their early books focused on non-violence feminism and alternative economics after four years of publishing a small quarterly magazine called the new catalyst Kip and Judith plant we're looking to reach a larger audience with their activist writing when one of their friends at new society suggested that they get into book publishing very close to the collective and so we're still cranking out the newspaper and I'm doing the book and we're living off-grid and you know and it gets to be seven below we have no power whatsoever so we'd have to put the battery into the car and drive the car around to charge up the battery bring it back so we can operate our own computer with this so what David said you know you can reach a lot more people through books than you can through the magazine where you've got three thousand four thousand readers books you can get tens of thousands so what he said why don't you try it why don't we try to set you up with the Canadian office of new society publishers so for the next five or six years didn't just and part of that process was moving here because we needed to be able to plug into the grid we needed a partner tool if we were going to do this experiment it's okay we do we devoted ourselves to that and I moved here and set up a little office and began to learn the business of book publishing so the Philadelphians taught us everything and then around 1995 after many years of service the Philadelphia decided to and so but we were just so we did want to stop so but we didn't have the money he was an angel investor Kip and Judith along with help from an angel investor acquired the company and in the fall of 1996 launched new society as a for-profit enterprise with a new vision of how to do business well I would love to think that our company is and maybe it is it's not just about profit but it's about people in place so it's the three P's the triple bottom line we're social creatures and we need each other and the problem with our current society is were fragmented didn't really need it from each other and from place so that's the foundation we have a family first policy so that means that if your father is dying you go do it there's no question for as long as it takes so we've definitely had that very scenario if you need to go to your kids school to do something you just go it's simply what you do but all the work seems to get done and it really to do the best possible job because they're given free reign to do that work it's always been about family first life comes first you have to work this many hours it's like they understand if my kid is in a school play or something that like I should go on the company itself understands that well I've worked for a number of different companies in the past and what sets new society apart is it's a sense of being a family so we really look after each other we all it it turns out we all take our turn in life having a tough time and we kind of rally for each other we have our art designer guy down and one of our position editors sit down everybody else just Rises to fill in the gaps now maybe that happens in a normal company but it happens organically here there's never any question about it we know we'd love to take care of themselves and their families before their jobs in an odd sort of way that makes them work even more special I think every time that there is something going on for a team members family and everyone really comes together to help support that person I'm so inspired so we all take care of one and out there if there's a problem with one of our family members and we need to go attend to that there's no issue and everyone's very supportive we're very much a family and we really support each other we have long-term employees here people you know people always tend to to come back it's it's a home we're all in here in it for the long haul so even people who are older don't retire because like it's part of their lives well you know I don't mean to be trite but we are providing tools for people to and that's we don't like to publish books that are just dire but just paint a dire picture and we really encourage authors to have a solutions orientation to their to their if they setup a problem trying to have some solutions to go with that a lot of the topics of new society covers and have historically covered have been at the real sort of cutting edge often published with no clear knowing that the ideas were important but not necessarily mainstream so often with the idea that there is not necessarily a clear market and the commercial viability may may or may not be there but that the material demanded to be published it had to be put out into the world and was important so there's a lot of risk taking in the publishing in terms of the subject areas and the specific topics of the books rapid decision making I mean we can decide to take on a book in a five-minute conversation whereas quite a lot of publishing it's a very ponderous process of profit and loss calculations and market assessment and all of that and we just sort of rely on some of that but a lot of it on our intuition and a lot of it is driven by our interest as editors and the feedback we get from sales and marketing and other people of what are important ideas that need to be discussed and as in love the concept meetings when we sit around and think together this group thinks so coming up with titles or cover design suggestions or concept meetings we lively and Goods connected brain work if we think something is important and it needs a book we champion it we run with it and invariably we publish it I really like our concept meetings when we have new books that have come out them you have to sit down as a team it's very creative process and it's just really interesting to hear everyone's point of view on the content that is coming through so that's inspiring to me everyone has to create like ability to talk about the content because that we all do gardening and the of animals and me can just really relate to what we publish here so that part of it is really inspiring to me as well that we actually walk our talk I just like knowing that I'm part of of what's happening of the that we are successfully bringing people the information that they need to to tackle what's going on around them new society does more than print high-quality books they are pioneering the business ethics that can change the way our economy and work lives operate they talk but they don't do it so we make sure that all of our paper is recycled and organization so we try to our books are about sustainability and then the company itself is trying to be as sustainable as possible new society has always been valued driven the whole company arose out of Chris and Judith trying to change the world and make it a better place and so that runs through the whole company and it's also like when I started working here and had a bit of business experience I'm like this is the most organically run company I've never seen like there's no business like let's lay down here I was like yeah but it's super successful and so just shut up listen pay attention it's not a hierarchical structure it's really important to me that we're employee owned and we're before it's inspiring to work for company does that but it is also very family-oriented because everyone is so mission driven and so self-motivated it's there's not like this structure of oversight yeah really strong team and it and the team is not we're gonna make a lot of money out of this company the team is we're here to make a product that we can put into the hands of people who can make the world a better place we're we're the only publisher certainly in our sector quite possibly the only publisher in North America that prints exclusively on 100% post-consumer recycled paper we printed an employee-owned press as well and the press is located in Manitoba with that comes higher cost I mean they're fair wage pair they have a very tight control in their supply chain we know where our paper comes from we know what the inks are made of we know what the waste-treatment stream is when you pick one of our books up off the shelves versus another publisher in a bookstore for example those aspects unless you read the details at the back where we explain it are often invisible to people and what they go to is the price exclusively and they'll want to know why one full-color book is five dollars or ten dollars more than another full-color book and the real reason is it's it's the externalization of the environmental impact of that other publishers book so books that are printed overseas in particular the wages are significantly lower but also the the waste control the externalization of the negative outputs of the production they're not captured in the price but to the buyer we're competing on price we believe that trees have their own story right and that's why we print 100% post-consumer paper I would explain it about how people by turning to buying local food organic food no you're doing that because you know where the food comes from you know the process it went through to get to your dinner plate how far it came and you know that more money is going to the farmer and you know that it's better for you so we've been saying lately that our books are so good you could eat them and so I think that if we look at our food or the clothes you put on your back we're looking at the labels more but where they were made and you know how the fibers were grown and processed and we can apply that to so many things in our life I wish people knew more about the quality of what we're producing the physical books and the our efforts to reduce the impact of that as much as possible much like people are increasingly aware of the origins of their food that they're eating or at least some people are where their food comes from and all the impacts associated with that it's very similar with book eggs and eggs are not necessarily the same thing one could be from a battery farm and one could be free-range organic and they look the same but they're not the same and it's similar with the books where carbon neutral we're one of the few publishers that are we buy our carbon offsets through a local company so through our carbon offsets we're supporting the composting in the city of Vancouver and if more publishers start printing on recycled paper and in North America then that also brings the prices down for everybody else so I think the main thing is to get other people doing it as well despite a business culture that puts people in community first new society is not immune to the pressures of the publishing industry and the influence of the media giants book publishing is such a complex industry you know and and of course technology is at the center of it it always has been I'd like us to continue to thrive but part of that means not burning out so to find our own level of sustainability so we have good health happiness and joy and excitement without without burning out that's a really tricky because of the pressures of the industry pressures of the industry are huge we live by what we sell and so that's that's a constant issue one other challenge is Amazon itself they've made book publishing our sales accessible worldwide there's no question about that but that's come at the detriment of two things one is largely independent bookstores I thought actually closing the small independent book stores which is pretty bad because those were the stores it located in communities and neighborhoods with coffee bars that's where our books sold after another its Amazon just goes on the territory the days of the general independent bookstore aside from the big ones those days are long gone so they so in some ways the bricks and mortar stores have been killed by Amazon the other thing is Amazon demands very high discounts from publishers and their sheer size Leeds publishers with no negotiating room so it's not a negotiation as much as a Mazon tells you what the discount is and you take it or leave it and you can't leave it these days because they are the conduit to so many books out there taking massive discount they taken nothing because they can they do so that puts pressure on prices because it presents an unrealistic expectation sometimes on people for how much a book should toss because when they drive down the price they'll put a 3540 percent discount on Amazon that's coming out of somewhere and where it's coming out of is the publisher and then also the office the author's royalty so it's hard to tell people not to to buy from the cheapest most accessible point-of-sale and if you know we do use those conduits but it certainly puts pressure on us as publishers in our office and so you're in this situation where you don't want to drive your readers to Amazon on the others on the other hand we're selling 50% of our books there we all love a good deal I love a good deal so it is difficult to resist sort of sort of bargain basement prices especially with how expensive things are today the sales reps say you know what do you look at you look at a cover if you can't look at the back you look for the price tag and so they said that too why why should a customer want to pay more for this so first of all people don't often think of their book as a product they think of it as information so first you have to educate them that this is a product and things go into the production one of the biggest differences you can make is vote with your dollar so every purchase you make you know if you're giving your money she's a big corporation so it's gonna continue that cycle so when you make a choice with the money you spend I think it speaks volumes and so we want people to feel good about not just what is in our books about the information you're going to find but feel good about knowing you know that it was printed in North America that it's on a hundred percent recycled paper that it's coming from the carbon neutral company that were a big corporation and all of these things this is a book that actually encompasses all my values not just with the information but how it's made and that there is a difference for starters you're supporting a independent publisher and you're supporting all of us who work here all right all of these people who have a mission who are trying to do good but more than that you are diversifying the industry so that authors can still be published books can still be written and you're not being controlled by Amazon beginning to dictate content or you know size of price a book by buying directly from the from the publisher you're supporting that new society in particular you're helping us push back against the paper industry I think we're trying to inspire people to work on solutions to help change the world I think we all at some point feel overwhelmed by what's happening in the world and we don't know what we do to make a change or make a difference and it can I think it can make people not try it's just too much you shut down and you say well nothing I'm gonna do is make a difference in any ways I'm just gonna put the blinders on and keep going the way I'm going I think what new society is trying to accomplish overall is to give people the tools that they need and sometimes those tools are real physical practical this is how you do this and so sometimes the tools are inspiration and sometimes the tools are more philosophical political communication we are definitely focused on helping people and supporting people in their own paths to whatever solutions they're seeking I think sometimes we question our skill set or what we have to offer what can I really do in any profession you can make a difference so there's always a new or different way in innovative or sustainable way to do something we get stuck in that that's just how you build a house or you have to drive a car and there's all these alternatives of different ways of doing things and change doesn't mean loss that can actually bring more to your life when you do something differently and they can actually be a relief and I think we share our experiences with each other it makes it easier for all of us to realize it can't be done it is actually fun and exciting so I think my vision for new society is just to keep offering people the tools of the vision I want people to know that there are solutions and that it is okay – I think a lot of us want to do something different but we don't know what it is and we can't all do everything so I mean we do have a wide range of topics on homesteading gardening that we have the philosophical side and the how-to side so there's sort of something for everybody you can make your own kombucha like we all start in small steps and so I think I just wish people knew that it's not that hard to do to do something if we're going to learn to live in place how do we do it with different tools because if we do it with the same old patriarchal tools which is going to recreate the same old same old from there to trying to figure out how we can live a sustainable lifestyle based on love connection the ideas I think still hold firm even though the experience isn't as smooth and easiest we had hoped 35 years ago I don't think people know how easy it is to make a change and that we just really want to give them those tools to help them we are new society we are a new society we are a new society we are new society publishers publishers we are new society publishers please please please please please read these texts wash touch touch touch touch touch the books the books you


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