Posts By: Joe Biel

Mari Naomi on our podcast

Last week Mari Naomi came to Portland for XOXO Fest and we talked and talked and talked. We talked so much that we hit record for the podcast. Publishing, identity, and how to best respond to toxic behavior. Do people who grow up in affluence lead less fulfilling lives? Story at 11.

Bicycle / Race

Bicycle / Race paints an unforgettable picture of Los Angeles—and the United States—from the perspective of two wheels. This is a book of borderlands and intersections, a cautionary tale about the dangers of putting infrastructure before culture, and a coming-of-age story about power and identity. The colonial history of southern California is interwoven through Adonia Lugo’s story of growing up Chicana in Orange County, becoming a bicycle anthropologist, and co-founding Los Angeles’s hallmark open streets cycling event, CicLAvia, along the way. When she takes on racism in the world of national bicycle advocacy in Washington, DC, she finds her voice and heads back to LA to organize the movement for environmental justice in active transportation.

In the tradition of City of Quartz, this book will forever change the way you see Los Angeles, race and class in the United States, and the streets and people around you wherever you live.

This is Portland (2nd Ed)

Updated with a new edition for 2018 and 50% additional material, This is Portland is a first-hand look at a city that people can’t seem to stop talking about. It’s a guidebook of sorts, but not to restaurants and sightseeing. Instead, Alexander Barrett is your friendly guide to the quirky characters and atmosphere of Portland, Oregon and how fun, beautiful, and ridiculous it can be. With its approachable, often hilarious tone, this book is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about bikes, beards, beers, rain, and everything else important about the city you’ve heard you should like.

Stoner Babes Coloring Book

This meditative, art-filled adult coloring book is inspired by the beauty of women and gender fluid people who savor the qualities of the cannabis plant. They are empowered, intelligent, motivated humans who pay no mind to judgment, for they’re making their mark in this world no matter their color, shape, size, age, or gender. You’ll enjoy coloring these highly detailed and varied pages, with tattoos, patterned garb, shape-filled backgrounds, marijuana bouquets, and gorgeous faces. While you color, partake in the transcendental qualities of weed and contemplate what empowerment means to you.

Contains over 60 babes on single-sided and perforated pages that you can tear out and share.

Feminist Weed Farmer

Weed is powerful medicine, and growing your own is as empowering as it gets. Experienced Humboldt farmer Madrone Stewart shares her hard-won knowledge gained from years of growing cannabis, Zen meditation, and surviving as a woman in a male-dominated industry. She walks you through the big picture and each detail of growing about six backyard plants, from selecting seeds to harvest and processing. Humorous, sage, and with a big heart, each chapter is infused with what she’s learned about equalizing the weed industry, applying mindfulness to pest management, and the importance of owning each step of the process. If you’ve ever wanted to grow your own pot or make hash or kief at home, this book is your wise guide.

Unfuck Your Brain

Our brains are doing our best to help us out, but they can be real assholes sometimes. Sometimes it seems like your own brain is out to get you—melting down in the middle of the grocery store, picking fights with your date, getting you addicted to something, or shutting down completely at the worst possible moments. You already told your brain firmly that it isn’t good to do these things. But your brain has a mind of its own. That’s where this book comes in. With humor, patience, and lots of swearing, Dr. Faith shows you the science behind what’s going on in your skull and talks you through the process of retraining your brain to respond appropriately to the non-emergencies of everyday life. If you’re working to deal with old traumas, or if you just want to have a more measured and chill response to situations you face all the time, this book can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together and get your life and brain back. Our brains are doing our best to help us out, but they can be real assholes sometimes. Sometimes it seems like your own brain is out to get you—melting down in the middle of the grocery store, picking fights with your date, getting you addicted to something, or shutting down completely at the worst possible moments. You already told your brain firmly that it isn’t good to do these things. But your brain has a mind of its own. That’s where this book comes in. With humor, patience, and lots of swearing, Dr. Faith shows you the science behind what’s going on in your skull and talks you through the process of retraining your brain to respond appropriately to the non-emergencies of everyday life. If you’re working to deal with old traumas, or if you just want to have a more measured and chill response to situations you face all the time, this book can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together and get your life and brain back.

Paleo for Unicorns

Paleo for Unicorns is a hilarious, helpful cookbook for people who want to eat what feels right to them without a bunch of macho posturing, pseudoscientific diet mumbo jumbo, or nitpicky recipe policing. If you don’t even eat cereal for breakfast because you don’t want to wash the dishes, and if eating cereal makes you feel kind of woozy anyway, this might just be the cookbook for you. Written for even the most beginnery of beginners, this book will inspire you to start cooking and taking care of yourself, because taking care of yourself is a radical feminist act. And if you take care of other people, large or small, it will help with that, too. The recipes, cooking advice, and stories in this book are for anyone who wants to eat a more anti-inflammatory, gluten-free, dairy-free, or low-carb diet.

Call for Submissions for Neurodiversity zine series

Autism now occupies a similar place in the public consciousness at this moment as gay rights did in the 1970s: no one understands it and The Borg demand our assimilation! 
Your Neurodiverse Friend features advice and explanatory narrative about the neurodiverse experience for the less divergent so we can be seen as real, whole people. If you are neurodiverse, you should contribute to the next issues! The theme for issue #3 is Masking and the deadline is May 15, 2019. We want your personal narrative, origin story, misconceptions you’ve faced, how people could better interact/collaborate/interface with you, and aspirations of how you would like the movement to grow that can serve as a narrative for NTs understanding our people’s experiences. 500-2,000 words.
Proud to Be Retarded offers exposition on neurotypicals’ neurophobia and the frequent claim that they are supportive of #ActuallyAutistic people…as long as we act like they do. One reviewer for my book Good Trouble mentioned that she couldn’t believe that I wasn’t part of a radical zine community on the forefront of Autistic theory…so I decided to start one! The inspiration for the title lies in the homocore roots of punk and Don’t Be Gay in the 1980s. Queer punks were told that they would be accepted as soon as they acted like straight people.  The deadline for issue #3 is February 15, 2019 the theme is interactions with authority, and submissions should be 500-2,000 words! Theme for issue #4 is anxiety with a deadline of August 15, 2019. Issue #5 focuses on Co-occuring conditions with a deadline of February 15, 2020. 
email submissions/questions to joe at microcosmpublishing daht com

2017 Money Report (with infographs!)

Happy new year! What a year it’s been. On a personal level, it’s been really hard for a lot of folks, and we’re no exception. 2017 was a year of taking stock, facing tough truths, and returning to priorities. We found ourselves in the position of being able to offer some helpful tools for this, especially Dr. Faith G. Harper’s zines and her book that came out this year, Unf*ck Your Brain and Set Sytes’s humorous but so so true guide to How Not to Kill Yourself. It turns out that a lot of you really, really needed funny, practical mental health guides and getting to connect with many readers about this was a highlight of the year.

Last year we reported that 2016 was Microcosm’s best year yet (and not just financially). Well, we are amazed to be able to let you know that 2017 exceeded that by a whopping 52.48%!

Since last January 1, we’ve published 17 books and dozens of zines as well as adding about 500 titles to our distribution catalog (which we were intending to completely dismantle just a few years ago). This includes a 200,000% increase in witchy books, a subject that had not previously been on our radar but through which our sales team of Jeri Cain and Kristine ably steered us. Despite plans to end our touring program and reduce travel, we ended up doing a record number of events in 2017 too, including a trip to Europe in Aug/Sept! At the same time, our production schedule is booking dates in 2024 and we sent our final Spring, 2018 titles to the printer this morning.

We added some more staff changes this year: Kristine Anstine, former Comics Relief and Last Gasp long-timer came on as major accounts sales manager, Trista Vercher hopped onto our fast-moving wagon to do production, illustration, customer service, and paper pushing. And former star intern Sidnee Grubb will be taking a job here handling all of our precious human resources, sales, operations management, and making us the best Cosm we can be. Her future-husband Ben will also take on a role in our retail store and doing film and photography for us. Oddly, we didn’t lose a single staff person in 2017. We added four more!

We sold about 168,000 books last year; about 460 per day!

Here’s a breakdown of some math about our year, as powered by charts:

Our total income for the year was $754,939.94 (a 52.48% increase from 2016). Here’s a pie chart that shows what we’re selling. “Other” is mostly Slingshot planners. Z-MC Books is what we publish.

So as with most years, our bestsellers were our own books. Let’s look at a further breakdown of sales minus expenses of those books:

And here’s the sales figures in order of income, not taking expenses into account:

Unlike previous years, our biggest sellers are brand new and all of the top 10 (except the perennial Make Your Place) are from the past 15 months! Still, sales continue to democratize. In the past we relied on a single title to pay for all of our bills but now we have to rely on every book to bring in even just $5 per month so we can make that difference up in volume.

Lastly, here are our expenses, totaling -$820,034.61 and forcing us to borrow a bit of money. You see, we are growing so fast that we cannot finance it with our book sales alone. This is a wonderful problem to have as we recently learned on Planet Money! And we increased employee wages 19.37%!

We also donated $$59,672.00 (72.59% increase) worth of books to cool organizations! And wow, check out our rollercoaster ride:

And just like we tell you every year: 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!