New Society Publishers’ roots are firmly planted in activist soil in both the United States and Canada.

Activist Roots

In the US, the Philadelphia office grew out of a need for pamphlets and small books on nonviolent civil disobedience training, the activist work of the Movement for a New Society against the anti-Vietnam war. From this work a book publishing company emerged in the late 1970s.

New Society Publishers’ Canadian office grew out of British Columbia’s Fed-Up food co-op in the early 1970s, and later the bioregional movement in the ‘80s. The first New Society Publishers Canada books, The New Catalyst Bioregional Series, were based on the work of The New Catalyst, an offshoot of Fed-Up’s broadsheet and price list, The Catalist, which kept co-op members in touch with each other’s communities as well as providing a food price list. All of this early publishing was done in the mountains near Lillooet, BC, with a battery-operated computer powered by a micro-hydro system, and phone service by radio telephone only. Chris and Judith called it their “paleo-technic phase.”

By the 1990s, the Plants took to heart the notion that we had the next decade to turn things around. With this in mind, they moved themselves and the company to Gabriola Island, one of the beautiful Gulf islands in British Columbia.

After personal health struggles motivated the sale of New Society to Douglas and McIntyre, New Society operated as a semi-autonomous imprint of D&M, keeping its own books and staying in its offices on Gabriola Island. In 2012, D&M filed for bankruptcy protection, leaving New Society perilously close to being forced to close its doors too. In a last-ditch move, New Society was reacquired by Chris and Judith Plant and Carol Newell in early 2013.

The company is now run by a dedicated team who work well together because they know they can handle just about anything, having navigated the treacherous waters of bankruptcy and acquisition. The company now has a very innovative Employee Trust Fund, the purpose of which is to ensure that those doing the work are financially rewarded.

Leaders In Sustainability

As we move towards our 50th year, New Society Publishers continues to lead the publishing industry in sustainable practices. We look forward to increasing the scope and relevance of our publishing program, continuing the work to turn things around and to provide the building blocks for a new society.

For an intimate retrospective of our company history from the point of view of the Canadian principals, we invite you to watch Judith Plant’s overview of the company’s story.

A Sustainable World,
Word by Word.

We craft and amplify narratives that challenge the status quo, inspire action, and spark conversations that reverberate through generations.

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