Windhorse Publications: the changing world of Buddhist books
On Fri, 21 November, 2014 - 13:50
In the approach to a certain December festival The Buddhist Centre Online’s Ethical Christmas campaign highlights ways to make generosity even more ethical than usual.
How about buying Buddhist books (online or at your local Triratna centre) from Triratna’s book publishers in Cambridge, UK, Windhorse Publications? As a small Buddhist charitable company they’re distinctive.
Publishing Assistant Hannah writes: “Like other Triratna enterprises, we’re a ‘Team-Based Right Livelihood’; a business guided by Buddhist ethics. We’ve been publishing books on Buddhism since the late 1970s and there have been huge changes in our work since then. Let’s just compare two of our key books: Sangharakshita’s Who is the Buddha?, published in 1994, and Subhadramati’s Not About Being Good, published in 2013.
When Who is the Buddha? was published, work at WP was almost entirely focused on editing Sangharakshita’s talks into books. We were all financially supported according to need, which meant more money for developing new books.
Not About Being Good has been published in very different conditions. The publishing market is becoming increasingly challenging: e-Books and online bookselling mean a general decline of profit margins; some big international online retailers take as much as 60% of our sale price! Also there’s been huge growth in books on Buddhism, which means more competition.
So we’ve had to move with the times: Not About Being Good was our first book released simultaneously in paper and eBook formats, and now nearly all our books are available as eBooks. (We have four new titles planned; now all we need is your help to sponsor their publication.)
Our team has slimmed down to four part-timers, still earning a lot less than in a mainstream publishing company. Priyananda is our Publishing Director, commissioning and editing new books; Michelle is Publishing Controller - she oversees book and eBook production; and Hannah is Publishing Assistant, working mostly in marketing. Lee is our accountant.
‘We aim to create an office environment that supports our Buddhist practice. Priyananda explains, ‘This is a daily experience of sangha, being able to work with the conscious assumption of a shared ethical and Dharmic perspective.’ Michelle adds, ‘I enjoy working in an area I believe in, knowing the value the Dharma brings to the world.’”