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Beacon Press ends three-year test with $500K surplus

Beacon Press exceeds requirements set by the UUA Board.
By Jane Greer

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Beacon Press, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations’s trade book publisher, has proved its financial mettle. The Press, which had been suffering from downturns in the publishing industry, was able to achieve a total surplus of $544,500 over the past three years, far exceeding requirements imposed by the UUA board.

After a rocky financial year in 2001, Beacon, known for such socially relevant best sellers as The Pentagon Papers, Cornel West’s Race Matters, and Marian Wright Edelman’s The Measure of Our Success, as well as its distinguished fiction and poetry, was put on a three-year financial regimen by the UUA board that required the Press’s operating deficits not to exceed $200,000 per year. The Press, which had already begun to implement strategic changes, easily exceeded these goals.

According to Beacon Director Helene Atwan, the Press’s success was attained by a combination of strategies including reducing the cost of manufacturing and royalties, raising prices, and better controlling distribution. “None of this would have happened without good books,” she added. “Notably Mary Oliver’s three new books, Rashid Khalidi’s Resurrecting Empire, Roger Wilkins’ Jefferson’s Pillow, and Deborah Meier’s In Schools We Trust.” She also credited the strong support of the UU community as a factor in the Press’s success.

The Press traces its history to 1854 when the American Unitarian Association began publishing books to promote Unitarian ideas and theology. As the century progressed, the Press began to embrace a broader social mission by covering subjects such as abolitionism, women’s rights, and public education. It has continued on this trajectory but has since expanded to include works of fiction and poetry. For more information, visit Beacon’s Web site at www.beacon.org.

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