Portland, Or. April 2019 — The first quarter of Microcosm Publishing’s self-distribution saw sales rise 64.8% over last year, with March as our highest net sales month ever.
photo credit Laura Stanfill
After parting ways with distribution-giants Legato/PGW/Perseus/IPS and Amazon in January, Microcosm Publishing has found even more success by being fully independent. The record growth and a strong future are results of years of preparation and groundwork and are being seen equally in both publishing and distribution numbers.
“This is normally the slowest time of year in publishing,” Joe Biel, Founder and CEO explains, “and often riddled with returns, but we’ve added 50 new accounts in March and found that being closer to the ground has turned it around, into a serious season for sales.”
Microcosm Publishing is a vertically integrated, worker-owned publishing house that equips readers to make positive changes in the world and their lives, emphasizing skill-building, showing hidden histories, and fostering creativity through challenging conventional publishing wisdom. Founded in 1996, Microcosm now has sold over three million books, offers a warehouse open to public browsing, and a staff of 14.
In January alone, net sales were up 86.3%, and first quarter net sales in dollars for 2019 are up 64.8% over 2018. All this without having to cave to terms from damaging mega-corporations like the big A.
“We have taken to ignoring Amazon,” Joe adds, “which ranged from 1-9% of our net sales by month last year, and are no longer servicing them under their unreasonable terms. Rumors indicate that they continue to order through wholesalers. If that’s what they want to do, it’s a win-win.”
With sales of both in-house and distributed titles up, Biel notes that “by focusing on accounts that no one else is thinking of, we continue to grow our small world. In any event, removing obstacles between us and our customers has been tremendously advantageous to selling more books.”
Exploring the Best of St. John’s: Laura O. Foster’s Stair Walk in Pictures by Briana Ybanez
Laura O. Foster’s “Portland Stair Walks” begins with a trip to St. John’s, one of Portland’s most famous and photographed bridges, and for good reason, it’s one of the most scenic places in all of Portland. I decided to try this stair walk tour after a long, stressful day, and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable, calming days I’ve had all winter.
It was freezing cold when I walked down to the boat ramp at Cathedral Park, located right along the water of the Willamette river, under St. John’s Bridge. I was not prepared, only a light sweater to protect myself from Portland’s unusually cold March weather. I stood on the floating dock beneath the bridge, as instructed by Foster, and wondered to myself why I hadn’t made my way out here before, it was a serene moment, realizing that I was the only one standing out there so close to river’s small waves. Initially the sky was grey and cloudy overhead, “Ok, this isn’t too bad,” I thought, “If only it wasn’t so damn cold.” I started to walk back to the shore, wondering how I’d finish the walk under these conditions. But suddenly the cold didn’t seem to matter anymore, as I stood on the shore of the river, I watched as the mute, greyness that surrounded me dissipated, and a soft, warm light began to slowly wash over the bridges concrete anchorages. As soon as I began to wonder if I’d have the chance to witness one of Portland’s rare, yet spectacular, winter sunsets, it happened. The sky opened up to a bright pink, purple, and deep blue. The light posts that line the edge of the bridge in succession lit up as well. Here was the result:
I was so blown away by the sunset on the shore of St. Johns, I had to go back the next day to complete the tour. This was one of my favorite parts of the tour, walking up the famous “wedding stairs” and admiring the symmetry of the arches underneath the bridge.
The highlight of this tour is walking across the bridge, a .7 mile walk with Forest Park as a beautiful backdrop. I could feel the enormity of the structure, in contrast to the more unpolished and worn down neighborhood it stands in. Although it was cold and my shoes were damp from the rain, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride for such a beautiful piece of architecture. As Laura O. Foster writes, “This 3-mile, one-way stair walk rates high on covering intriguing ground, with a few unpleasant bits that make the good stuff all the sweeter.” Although this city was designed to get you outside, depending on the season, and how busy you are, it can be rare to have the opportunity to contemplate the nooks and crannies that Portland has to offer. “Portland Stair Walks” takes you away from the four walls of your home or work place, and into the unexpected: quirky wall murals and hidden graffiti, the boats resting on the Willamette river, or the white, snow capped treeline against the famous pale green beams of the St. John’s bridge.
We have calls for submissions open for two books right now!
For Bikesexuality, we’re looking for nonfiction essays / reporting / personal stories about … bicycling and sex. That can mean anything from contemplating your sexual orientation by bike to tales of pedal-powered sexytimes.
For the next volume of Bikes in Space, we’re seeking fiction. More specifically, feminist bicycle science fiction (and fantasy, and similarly speculative/fantastical genres). About cats.
The respective deadlines are in June and August. You can read the full guidelines over at Taking the Lane. And then get writing!
As I stepped beneath the towering trees of Grant Park, grass softly crunching beneath my feet, mental note was taken of the soft, white flecks peppering my hair, scarf, and jacket. Snow was to be my close companion on this tour, with no apologies given. I smiled. Was there not many a time Beverly Cleary herself had traipsed through this park on snow-laden days? To walk in the footsteps of my favorite author, whether in the thick of winter or the heat of summer, was an honor more than anything.
The tour began on the west side of the park, near a towering sequoia. As I made my way there, several dogs with their owners greeted me near the off-leash area, complete with wet puppy kisses. Upon reaching (and passing) said sequoia, I noticed the first main attraction to my left: the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden.
A life-sized Ramona gazed wistfully into the distance, with Henry Huggins and his furry companion Ribsy completing the scene. It’s a lovely little dedication by artist Lee Hunt, worth seeing up close and in person. By this time, the snow was falling quite thickly, whipping the faces of all in the vicinity. Ramona didn’t seem to mind, though.
Continuing on past the track and field section of Grant High, I took a gander at the homes peeking through the trees across the way. They are noted in the Walking with Ramona tour for being modeled after English cottages, and they are, indeed, quite charming.
Having left Grant Park, I continued forward for some time until… oops! I’d gone too far! Doubling back so as to hook myself onto the right track, I soon reached the next marker.
At the corner of Hancock and 33rd, a short pause became necessary, not just to get my bearings, but also to admire the residential area of Hancock Street. Its river of concrete traveled quite a ways down past more than one interesting set piece.
But what’s this? At my feet were little hand prints, stamped into the scratchy sidewalk. Seemed like the kind of mischievous thing Ramona would have done.
Across the street, on the right hand side, sat the Fernwood Grammar School, now sporting a new cognomen: the Beverly Cleary School.
On the wall by the east entrance of the school rests a mosaic dedicated to said author and her books.
Turning a corner to travel west on Hancock for a brief spell will reveal the arched entrance to the oldest portion of the school. What might young Beverly have thought as she made her way into the building for the first time?
These days the green doors look out onto a small, grassy area. Something was pulling at me to kick off my shoes and run across the field for the pure fun of it. Maybe some of Ramona’s rascally nature was starting to rub off on me. Alas, I held back the urge and returned to the residential section, where a surprise awaited me….
Down this street, on 3340 Hancock, rests one of Beverly’s childhood homes, the third (and last) that her family rented in Portland. It’s a quaint little thing, all decked out in a coat of red and gray, complete with a soft white and tan-colored trim. I admired the porch, in particular. This is where a young Beverly came out to do her needlework, and perhaps admire the towering elm tree across the way, its branches stretching impressively over the street in an attempt to grasp the rooftops on the opposite side.
As timing would have it, the current owner of the charming abode just so happened to be outside, and he was kind enough to let me snap a few pictures, even giving me leave to access the porch! I was tickled to sit where Beverly once perched and catch a view of what she saw in the early 1900s.
Perhaps I’d lingered a bit too long at the house, for the position of the sun was reminding me that time was of the essence. I had started the tour rather late in the day, and if this was going to be a complete excursion and not a half-baked one, it was time to get moving.
Making my way down town (traveling a little faster than I would have liked), my speedy feet came to a halt at Sandy Boulevard, the home of a very well-known resident indeed: the Hollywood Theatre. There she stood in all her grandeur, reminding me quite fondly of the old movie houses back home in Southern California. The theater has been here since 1925 and, hopefully, she’ll continue to be here for a long time.
I must have looked like such a tourist as I kept checking the tour book for directions on where to go next, following its instructed path down Sandy to the corner of 43rd. Sandy Boulevard, as it turned out, had more surprises in store.
More photos were to be snapped, it seemed, for directly on my right stood the oldest establishment still standing in the neighborhood.
Paulsen’s Pharmacy opened its doors in 1918, and you can still pop in for an ice cream at the soda fountain from the looks of it. I imagined Henry Huggins, one of Beverly’s colorful characters, skipping by the drugstore on his way home.
Directly across the street, proudly positioned in a corner, stood an enormous structure — part apartment, part Whole Foods Market — ironically named “The Beverly”. Why ironic, you say? You’ll have to read the book!
Already the sun was starting to set. The snow had abated somewhat, but the sky was still bathed in gray… and getting darker all the time. One of the next hot spots on nearby Tillamook Street was the Hollywood Library, but this was a dangerous place to enter. Books are like candy to me. Once inside, I might never come out. Was it safe…? Tentatively, I took the risk and stepped past the doors.
The warmth of the library was a great relief from the cold outside, and I certainly wasn’t the only one who had the same idea. The place was well occupied with adults and kids alike, some cozied up at tables with a good book, others accompanied with a son or daughter eager to check out their favorite title. Down the children’s isle, while checking out one of Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona” books, I heard a parent on the other side of the shelves ask, “How many times have you read that book?” Replied their little one, “Seven or eight times!” I smiled at this. Kid, I can relate, I thought.
Sure enough, I’d let myself fall deep into the bowels of more than one book, and by the time I reluctantly trudged out of the library the street lights had turned on. Not good. There were still a couple more locations to visit before the end of the tour. Time to get moving… and quickly.
Heading north on 41st Avenue took me back into residential territory once more. Walking past old horse rings and houses with garages squeezed into their yards led me to Stanton Street and eventually to 38th, and it is here that the homes took on a rather impressive quality. This is the site of “the ridge”, a huge hill of gravel dumped here many years ago by Ice Age flooding. It’s easy to see why it was taken advantage of. From its base to its peak, the location is rich aesthetically. The climb up to the top of the hill offered views of some of the cutest little homes you ever did see — it was as if they were pulled right from a fairytale book. No picture, in my opinion, could have done them justice.
By this time the hour was waning on 6:00 PM. The tour was nearing its peak. And yet, there was one last stop to make on the way back to Grant Park. Returning to the bottom of the ridge, I traveled down 37th Avenue to gaze upon one last, significant house. At 2924 NE 37th rests the home that Beverly’s parents purchased after having sold their farm in Yamhill. Memories both troubled and cherished were made in and around this abode, and, though it would have been a treat to explore it further, I contented myself with admiring the house from the outside.
Not much further down the road lay Grant Park. I decided to take one more picture of the grand facade, all lit up and aglow like a summer firefly (pic 18). Here the tour ended, but not before I was given a friendly farewell. Perhaps the spirit of Ribsy was following me around that evening, for I was sent off with a healthy dose of sniffs and kisses courtesy of two park goers’ dogs — a pleasant way to end the day!
For those looking to extend their experience beyond the pages of Walking with Ramona, taking this tour with said book in tow is a great way to spend your day if you’re a fan of Beverly Cleary’s works, especially of the Ramona series. (Seriously, take the whole day if you want to check out every nook and cranny, grab a bite to eat, and maybe even see a movie if you’re so inclined. It took me three hours at a slow-to-medium pace and it still wasn’t enough time.)
Unless you don’t mind the cold (and possibly snow), I’d highly recommend taking this tour in the spring or summer; at the very least, it gives you an excuse to stop for some ice cream at one of the local shops in downtown Portland. And if you’re looking to add some beautiful shots to your photo album then, by all means, take your camera. You’re gonna need it.
This post was written by Spring intern Kellie Robinson. Follow Kellie’s work online, check out the book here, and learn more about interning at Microcosm in the FAQ,and learn more about Laura Foster in this recent Portland Business Magazine article.
This spring we got the lovely 2nd edition of Laura O. Foster’s charming Portland guide, Walking with Ramona: Exploring Beverly Cleary’s Portland. This is one of our favorites, and if you’ve been curious about the book but haven’t gotten around to checking it out, spring intern Kellie is here with a review.
Back in the good ol’ days, when I was a wee lass, there was one author whose books I always returned to time and time again: Beverly Cleary. You may know her well as the vivid personality behind the Ramona Quimby series, but I knew her as the author of my favorite book, The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Strangely, although I perused that little title so many times I could practically quote it word-for-word, I never even touched the “Ramona” chronicles….
It proffers a playful hand, inviting you to explore where Cleary (and her fictional alter ego, Ramona) spent her youthful days: elm-lined streets that make tunnels with their long branches; seasoned brick-and-mortar schools of days gone by; a local library or two, one of Cleary’s favorite stops; and Grant Park, where the yells and laughter of neighborhood children can still be heard.
Short though this book may be, dull it is not. Foster leads you behind-the-curtain of Ms. Cleary’s life, one which had its fair share of hardships and adventures, encouraging readers to traverse the historic landscape of Portland and its many hidden gems.
It’s a tour book, taking you step-by-step throughout the city and its old neighborhoods, walking where Ramona and friends walked, resting where Cleary rested, and even welcoming you to stop by one or two of Beverly’s childhood homes.
Provided you’re ever in Portland and want to take the tour, it’s recommended that you set aside a whole day for it: you’re gonna need (and want) it!
This book has not only inspired me to want to check out the Ramona Quimby series, but it also motivated me to write a very belated fan letter to Ms. Cleary (at age 102, I hope the letter gets to her!).
Whether you’ve grown up with rascally Ramona, or are just now getting into Beverly Cleary’s books, I’d encourage you to pick up this charming title.
This post was written by Spring intern Kellie Robinson. Check back later this month for all the details on Kellie’s full tour of NE Portland using the book. Follow Kellie’s work online, check out the book here, and learn more about interning at Microcosm in the FAQ.
Lydia Rogue was an intern back in Spring 2018 and, a year later, recently accepted a position as Marketing Associate, helping us keep all these books safe and managed! You might recognize Lydia as the guest editor of Taking the Lane #15: True Trans Bike Rebel, and the upcoming Bikes in Space #6: The Great Trans-Galactic Bike Ride. A few weeks in now, I asked Lydia a few questions about what it’s been like to return.
How are you enjoying your first week as staff in the office? How does it feel?
It feels great! I’m so thrilled to be back in the office. I’ve been working a variety of jobs since my internship – not necessarily bad or even unfulfilling jobs, just ones that I didn’t necessarily care about. Now I’m doing something I love and something that I’ve been wanting to do for many years.
Has anything changed since you left?
So much! When I was an intern, we were all crammed up in the upstairs office, with room for just a couple more people downstairs. Now that the back area is open to us, we’ve got room to grow – and not everyone is trying to fit into a tiny room. (Also, we have a microwave now. I’m so stoked!)
What do you wish more people knew about… you? Microcosm? publishing?
I’m completely obsessed with RWBY – and yes, I’m thatLydia Rogue, if you were wondering. I also love table top RPG and video games and drink more tea than is probably healthy.
One thing about Microcosm that’s taken some re-adjusting to is remembering that a company that publishes books like Unfuck Your Brain doesn’t really care if you’re blasting the explicit version of a song on your work computer!
As far as publishing goes, it’s that, No, I can’t help you get your manuscript published. No joke, had 3 of my coworkers ask within about 24 hours of announcing my departure from my last job!
What are some of your hopes and goals for your time and work here?
I’m hoping to expand my skills and knowledge of the publishing industry, as well as get back into my writing groove. Right now, I’m coming off a long run of jobs that just weren’t working for me – not necessarily bad jobs, just ones that weren’t for me – and so being back doing the thing I love most is completing one of my biggest goals right off.
I’m hoping in the long term to help people find their voices and help promote them, particularly people who often don’t have a voice in the publishing world, or are only allowed to write in a specific niche.
Tell us about what inspires you these days.
Is it cheesy to say my girlfriend?
Real talk, though, right now I’m mostly inspired by the people around me. I love doing collaborative storytelling and being able to bounce ideas off of other people. I’ve also been reading a lot of poetry collections lately, which has been wonderful.
What was the last book that brought on some serious feels?
Oh, jeez. I’ve been reading so much nonfiction lately, I can’t really remember the last fiction book I read… Probably American War which… I’m processing. As a queer white person from the south, it elicited a strong reaction from me, but I’m still not sure what that reaction was, or how I feel about it in the end. It’s a good book, just elicits complicated emotions.
The new year brings a new batch of friends around the office and shop. What kind of people volunteer at a publishing house? Well this season’s interns come from all over the country, with a love of books, writing, and stories that brought them, like so many of us, to this cozy green shop.
What do you like to be called? How would you describe yourself?
Neil (he/him): I’m pretty quiet, creative, and curious. I think of myself as an observant little rabbit. I’m very passionate about spreading kindness and learning self love. I spend most of my time drawing or knitting!
Kellie (she/her): Creative, quixotic, and adventurous.
Briana (she/her): Easy going, flexible, creative, fun, and adventurous.
Noah (they/them): I am a queer, trans, disabled whirlwind with a passion for books, writing, and medicine.
Neil: Knitting is my very favorite activity. It’s like a challenging puzzle where you can choose colorful materials to make something warm and cozy and once you’re done you feel super accomplished!
Kellie: Drawing, writing, reading, making other people happy
Briana: Either reading a good book or taking pictures around the city. Most of my photography has revolved around activism in Portland.
Noah: I love to write, read, and sometimes draw in my free time. I also dabble in photography and crocheting, although I haven’t done the latter in a while now.
Chris: Coloring! And spending time with my dog, Catawba.
Where are you from? What do you miss/not miss most?
Neil: I go to school in Vermont; I really miss my friends and living in the beautiful mountains, but I’m fine without the heaps of snow.
Kellie: California. I miss my family, the thriving entertainment industry, and the sun.
Briana: I’m from sunny Southern California. I miss my family, the beach, constant 70 degree weather, and my friends. I do not miss the smoggy air and LA traffic.
Noah: I grew up in Ohio, then went to UW in Seattle for four years before moving to Vancouver. I miss the extreme seasons in Ohio (and the decent air conditioning!).
Chris: I am from North Carolina. I miss my family the most.
What’s your favorite thing about where you live now?
Neil: My roommate brings home donuts every night and my other roommate has a very sweet and cuddly cat named Deidre.
Kellie: Being closer to my boyfriend and the beautiful environment.
Briana: Besides Portland’s blend of urban living with easy access to nature, I’ve always been drawn to the fact that it’s one of the most literary cities in the country. I’ve spent many hours perusing the shelves of Powell’s.
Noah: I live in Vancouver, which is nice because it’s near friends and my husband’s family. That and the parking isn’t as difficult as it is in Portland.
What brings you to Microcosm?
Neil: My goal is to create and publish my own comic books! I knew that Microcosm could teach me a lot about the industry and I was drawn to the topics/goals that Microcosm stands by!
Kellie: A thirst for knowledge in the area of publishing.
Briana: I was drawn to Microcosm after seeing their selection of books at Portland’s Book Festival. I was impressed by the array of zines and books that were geared towards empowering its readers through self care, activism, and building healthy relationships.
Noah: Books! More seriously, I wanted to test the waters of the publishing industry, and this seemed like a good place to do so while also having my identities respected and recognized.
What do you want to get out of your time here, now that you’ve seen the basics of what we do?
Neil: I’m hoping to strengthen my skills with group work, problem solving and time management! I’ve never had an office job before and I can see I have a lot to learn, which is exciting!
Kellie: Information about the back end of publishing. I wish for my own book to be published in the future and so am interested in the ins and outs of this business.
Briana: I’d like to learn more about editing, and the relationship between author and publisher.
Noah: I just want to learn as much as possible, really.
What’s your favorite or least favorite thing about Microcosm so far?
Neil: My favorite thing is how kind and welcoming everyone is! I felt right at home on my first day. My least favorite thing is that the office is sometimes cold, but I’ve learned to bundle up a bit.
Kellie: I really like the atmosphere and friendly employees.
Briana: Microcosm has so many empowering and informative books, it’s amazing to be part of a publishing company with strong integrity and hard workers.
Noah: I’m editing a zine on accessibility in queer spaces right now, and that is RIGHT up my alley, so I’m really enjoying that kind of work. I also really like the atmosphere of the open warehouse.
Curveball: What is your favorite thing to watch/read/enjoy in the world right now?
Neil: Bob’s Burgers.
Kellie: Animated films; uplifting and atmospheric music. I’ve been really into the movie Smallfoot, for some reason. Does that count?
Briana: Now that it’s winter, I’m spending a lot more time binge watching Netflix, I just finished “You,” a pretty terrifying show from the perspective of a stalker. I’m also reading “Borderlands,” by Gloria Anzaldua.
Noah: The Adventure Zone, The Good Place… so many more.
Chris: The Good Place. (many of us in the office would like to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th this one)
When everything goes well, we love our books. But you don’t always have to take our words for it… In the first review of 2019, fall intern Chris shares her thoughts on This is Your Brain on Depression.
Dr. Faith Harper brings us ‘This is your Brain on Depression’; a quick and insightful read that seeks to help the reader understand how Depression affects our brains; as well as the way we think and act.
I learned about this great little book from my sister, who was so excited to introduce it to me and other members of our family. You see we all have depression. To varying degrees and with different symptoms, but depression nonetheless. Upon reading the book I can see why she was excited.
I have always retained a significant amount of doubt for books that claim to explain or help you treat depression. I generally expect to find empty self help books that promise change and do nothing but repeat the same mantras over and over again.
But in this book I found something far different. The author breaks down depression on multiple levels in order to go over the varying stages, influences, and misunderstandings. She explains it all concisely and without making the writing seem stunted, or the information seem compressed.
Oh, 2019, how happy we have been for you to arrive. For one thing, now we get to tell you all about this Fall’s new books.
In a recent post we announced 2019 as “The Year of Adventure,” and this season exemplifies that theme. From exploring new cities to making new friends (or treating the ones you have right); standing up for your self to building underground music scenes; finishing projects to handling freak-outs; these incredible titles take on adventures big and small, all set for release between September 2019 and February 2020.
We are proud and excited to share these amazing books (and some pretty fantastic covers!) with the world this year.
From Chaos to Creativity will help guide you through the clutter and teach you how to focus on the good ideas, manage your project, make time in your life, and execute your passions to completion. Make great art by changing your chaotic creative force into productive power!
We’re pretty sure no other book like this exists. Here you will learn the art of choosing and making friends, supporting them and letting them support you, maintaining friendships even when your life paths diverge, repairing friendships after a conflict, the difficult decision to break up a friendship, and much more. Life is so much sweeter with good friends by your side.
Throughout history, many women and nonbinary people have defied society’s expectations of feminine behavior and appearance in order to live a more authentic life. These short vignettes combine biographical sketches with evocative illustrations for an impact that is as bold, powerful, and inspirational as the brilliant artists, writers, and musicians they represent.
Your brain actually knows what it’s doing, and anger can be a good thing sometimes—just not if it’s ruining your life. Expanded from the zine of the same name, this is a brief, heady dose of neuroscience and cultural explanation of what anger is and what it does to you. There’s even a handy four-step checklist to help you deal with maddening situations after (or before) the fact, guidance on getting over things, and a chapter on forgiveness.
From the great, winged, fire-breathing lizards of the west to the wise, flying serpents of the east, dragons play a powerful role in our myths and imaginations. In these fourteen stories and one comic, bicyclists encounter a diversity of dragons, whether foes or friends, hoarders or helpers, powerful symbols or terrifying and very real beasts.
Expanded from the zine of the same name, Dr. Faith presents common problems people run into when it comes to personal boundaries, and offers advice on defining, understanding, implementing, and respecting the boundaries that are important to you and your loved ones.
Simone shares the vital skills that she’s learned over years of therapy, managing her mental health and remembering her reasons to live. Even if you can’t afford a therapist or hospital stay and the people around you are anything but helpful, you can still use those same tools to get better. With a foreword by the one-and-only Dr. Faith Harper.
Nervous breakdowns, anxiety, seeking acceptance, attempting to overcome internalized demons, and reacting to harmful and oppressive symptoms—punk rock has always embodied and emboldened our feelings and experiences, positive and negative. Hardcore Anxiety charts and tracks punk movements from the 70s till today, from small towns to stadiums, from the struggles in our heads to the people actively harming us in our communities.
For questions related to sales or customer service, email Sidnee@MicrocosmPublishing.com For media inquiries email Cyn@MicrocosmPublishing.com
This is the week! After eight years with a trade distributor we have returned to distributing our books independently in the U.S. We hear from people almost every week that our books are saving their lives, and we feel that we have an obligation to extend that as far and wide as possible. Few events in the history of Microcosm have improved our morale and brought our staff together like this has.
The stress relief as we counted down the days until we were free was worth it alone! And the proof is in the pudding—we’ve had to lay the groundwork for this for the past 18 months. Sales were up 24% in 2018 over 2017, making this, once again, Microcosm’s best year ever. Advance shipments for 2019 are already up 600% by doing it ourselves. It’s been a wild ride.
We constantly get really wonderful feedback on Microcosm’s reborn independence and it seems to be really inspiring to other independent publishers and bookstores. Speaking of, there are 38% more indie bookstores than there were ten years ago! They are also each selling an average of 34% more books!
We took our staff from 12 to 14 in 2018 and experienced many growing pains. We expanded both our warehouse and our offices so everyone has a bit more space and we added several additional storage buildings. Nate Beaty (who will have been with Microcosm for 18 years this July) finished our new software so that we can use our existing database to send our book data to everyone who wants it. This has been a ton of fun and a ton of work to do. Our big surprise for next year is that we hope to be ready to package the software that we have made and hopefully revolutionize our fellow publishers and help give other independents a fighting chance in our industry.
In the past year, we’ve published 29 new books and 52 new zines as well as adding over 1,000 titles to our distribution catalog (which we were intending to completely dismantle in 2016 in favor of publishing). The sharp increase in witchcraft books continues and we are continuing to focus primarily on gift and specialty accounts.
Instead of our previous Dinner & Bikes tours, we now focus on attending conferences and events in other cities and having more time at home. Which is a good thing, because our publishing schedule is filling up through 2025 and we finalize Fall 2019 covers this week.
We sold about 218,500 books last year; that’s about 600 per day!
Here’s a breakdown of some math about our year, with handy charts created by our WorkingLit software:
Our total income for the year was $947,142.77 Here’s what we’re selling:
Here are our bestsellers, by profitability:
And here’s our distributed bestsellers, by net income:
And here are our expenses, totaling $946.292.41. We are again able to afford to finance our own growth and have increased employee wages, with four more people receiving raises this month.
Here’s each month in 2018 compared to 2017:
And a friendly reminder: While we’re legally a “for-profit” organization, we choose to operate on a break-even basis. This means that when we have profits (which isn’t all the time, but we try), they don’t go into our owners’ yacht fund; they go into staff wages and taking a chance on publishing new books we believe in. Getting to do work we care about every day and put books out there that help people change their lives is way better than a yacht. Which is an important attitude to have in the publishing industry!