Is Nonprofit Publishing the Future for Independent Publishing?

In October 2014, McSweeney’s, a publishing house in San Francisco, officially became a nonprofit. While the organization used to be an independent publisher, they never made much money doing it. The founder, Dave Eggers, said that it was getting harder to be an independent publisher with each passing year. He claims that projects that would have sold more in the past are selling drastically less now.


The organization is now considered a sponsored project of a nonprofit arts organization in San Francisco. Now that the publishing firm functions as a nonprofit, it can now accept tax-deductible donations as a source of funding. Other nonprofit publishers include Beacon Press, Bellevue Literary Press, Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press, Red Hen Press and Sarabande Books

So, what do you guys think? Is the transition into a nonprofit something all independent publishers should consider? Jonathan Kirsch, a publishing and intellectual property lawyer says it is “the coming thing in publishing. It’s going to be increasingly common for certain kinds of publishing houses where something is at stake beyond making money.”

If a publishing house has a mission and vision for specific types of publications, they might function better as a nonprofit. Without the stress of finding money-makers, publishers are free to work on the projects they actually want to work on. This could also give smaller ideas an easier outlet to get published, as long as the nonprofit publisher likes their idea.


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