I was always interested in being somewhere in the world of books. Before college, I wanted to be a full-time writer, and at some point, in those four years, I realized I needed more social interaction in my day than there would be in a typical freelance day. Publishing seemed like the most adjacent career that was less isolated, and it’s turned out to be the case!
When I was a kid, my favorite store was Barnes & Noble. I’ve always been a reader, and quite frankly, I’ve only ever really felt qualified to work with books. I started out with the starry-eyed vision of publishing everyone has: editing. I learned in graduate school that being an editor probably wasn’t for me and, feeling a little hopeless toward the end of my graduate career, took a marketing and sales class. It changed the game for me.
Don’t mind us. We’re just getting through this heat wave by chilling with our summer reads, TV shows, and podcast binges. A tall glass of lemonade, with or without additive, really pairs well with them. Don’t judge! Need some recommendations? We have plenty!
The threshold is upon us. The end of our time with Helene Atwan as our director is coming up. We’re all wishing her the happiest retirement! It has been an amazing twenty-six years, and Beacon won’t be the same without her. So many amazing authors she brought into the fold! So many amazing books—including her love of poetry—she brought to the catalog! Several of our authors gathered here to congratulate her and to thank her. Along the way, we’ll take a trip down memory lane with photos.
The threshold is upon us. The end of our time with Helene Atwan as our director is coming up. It has been an amazing twenty-six years, and Beacon won’t be the same without her. So many amazing authors she brought into the fold! So many amazing books—including her love of poetry—she brought to the catalog! As much as we’re sad to see her go, we’re so happy about the retirement she is looking forward to.
The timing of this Q&A is a nice bookend, as I joined Beacon last June! I saw this specific job retweeted by either POC in Publishing or Latinx in Publishing. I’ve been in publishing/the world of books in some way ever since I graduated college back in the aughts. After moving around a bit, I really found a sweet spot in working on progressive books, and publicity and marketing really suit my preference of crafting the messaging and helping to put out projects into the world that the author has spent so much time working on.
By Brittany Wallace | I remember when I first heard about “Breaking Bread.” Contrary to what movies would have you think, the publishing process takes at least a year, sometimes two or three. When I started at Beacon in September 2021, we were already abuzz about our summer 2022 list—publishing speak for “forthcoming books.” Our director and the book’s in-house editor, Helene Atwan, brought “Breaking Bread” up in an all-staff meeting. She talked about how two years-long friends, Debra Spark and Deborah Joy Corey, gathered up to seventy essays from renowned and beloved food writers for the collection.
By Avery Cook | After two long years of conference Zoom rooms, we donned our lanyards once again and set up our table-skirted shop at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) in Boston, from March 31 through April 3. With the conference in our backyard this year, we attended with numbers and enthusiasm, enjoying for the first time since 2019 the privilege of being surrounded by our books and chatting in person with some of our authors.
In the wake of Helene Atwan’s retirement announcement, Beacon Press is delighted to share that Gayatri Patnaik, who has been with the press for two decades, has been appointed as the next Director, effective July 30, 2022.
By Bev Rivero | In the early evening on the first Thursday in March, an excited crowd of invitees gathered at the Museum of the Moving Image to celebrate the first three titles honored by the new Science + Literature program from the National Book Foundation. In addition to the excitement of chatting in person with book folks, the event was a great start to Women’s History Month, as all three books are authored by women.
By Amy Caldwell | As we entered our second year of the pandemic, early in the spring of 2021, I was reviewing the changes and additions the monastics of the Plum Village Center for Engaged Buddhism had made for our revised and expanded edition of Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic collection of meditations, “The Blooming of a Lotus.” Upon hearing of Thay’s death last Friday, my mind returned to my reading and that time.
It’s a rough way to begin the new year, mourning an author and an intellectual powerhouse. Lani Guinier, legal scholar, champion for voting rights, and the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School, joined the ancestors on January 7. She was seventy-one. Although heartbroken about her passing, we remain honored to have published her work, including “The Tyranny of the Meritocracy,” which she wrote to provide a clear blueprint for creating collaborative education models to strengthen our democracy rather than privilege individual elites. May she rest in power.
My degree is actually in film, but I realized only afterward that it wasn’t what I wanted for myself, so I did what any sensible person would do—I street performed for a little while in Baltimore, playing bucket drums. Wanting something more stable, I luckily got hired on as a manager at a Books-A-Million. The rest is history, I guess. I just fell in love with books, the industry, and the people in it. My first taste of publishing was during an internship at MIT Press where I got to work in a few different departments. That affirmed publishing as the right place for me.
Beacon Press is proud to announce the expansion of its poetry program, adding new voices to those of the press’s renowned poets—including James Baldwin, Mary Oliver, Sonia Sanchez, and Richard Blanco—who have been an essential part of the press’s catalog. The new series is called RAISED VOICES and will serve the overarching goal of representing marginalized voices and perspectives in poetry. The series authors will offer books that affirm progressive values, give voice to many identities, are accessible to a wide readership, and celebrate poetry’s ability to access truth in a way no other form can. Beacon plans to acquire about three new titles for the series each year.
It took me a long while to figure out that there were entire careers behind every page of the books I was reading. It might sound odd, but it wasn’t until reading about Anastasia Steele working in a publishing house from “Fifty Shades of Gray” that I put it together (pretty sure that wasn’t the goal of the book, haha). After that, I spent more and more time looking not only at what I was reading, but also which publisher or imprint was producing it.
By Perpetua Charles | Two years ago, my partner and I took a small getaway to Portland, ME. To feel confident on this trip, I was going to need my best early spring outfits and my trusty travel makeup bag. At the time, my natural curls were cropped close to my head, and to be honest, the stylist had done the cut a little lopsided. Unbeknownst to me, I’d also been struggling with the effects of an undiagnosed GI issue. But it didn’t take long into our first afternoon there to discover that my makeup bag didn’t make the trip with me. Dread and panic set in. My partner, a white, straight, cisgender male, had trouble understanding why I was briefly spiraling over this realization. In the moment, I couldn’t find the words to explain what I innately knew. In a city like Portland, I was going to stick out. Without makeup, I was going to stick out even more.
The Civil Rights Movement has lost another great one. Radical educator, global-minded activist, MacArthur genius fellow. On July 25 at age 86, Bob Moses joined the ancestors. While we’re heartbroken about his passing, we remain honored to have published Radical Equations, which he wrote with Charles E. Cobb to tell his story of founding the Algebra Project. He provided a model for anyone looking for a community-based solution to the problems of our disadvantaged schools and improving education for poor children of color.
What are you in the mood for? Some global history? Historical dark fantasy? Literary fiction? Graphic memoir? These books are what some of our staff have been reading this summer and they come highly recommended. If you need any ideas for what to read by the pool, on the beach, or by the breeze of the A/C, check out what we have to say about them.
A Q&A with Aviva Chomsky | The United States has tried to remake Central America in its own (US) interests and in the interests of US corporations, time after time. During the 1970s and 80s, Central Americans rose up in protest against a system that dispossessed peasants from their land in favor of big plantations and export agriculture enforced by US-supported militaries and police. Nicaraguans won their revolution in 1979, toppling the US-supported Somoza dictatorship.
A Q&A with Robin Broad and John Cavanagh | This book is about two of the most unlikely and inspiring victories that we’ve ever witnessed or had the privilege to be part of. That these wins take place in a poorer country, one that the United States and global corporations have exploited for decades, makes the wins even more remarkable. As we celebrated the victories, we realized that by sharing the story of these wins in a narrative nonfiction book, we could also share this sense of hope with readers, including readers who may have given up hope in these challenging times.