by Anneli Rufus
Berkeley-based Heyday Books has undergone a transformation, which company insiders announced yesterday. It's the result of a kind of midlife crisis for the 36-year-old publishing company, which — despite the crashed economy — has been "steadily growing," said publicity director Susan Pi.
"We had our first million-dollar year in 2009, moved to a larger building in 2008, expanded our list, and hired additional staff all within the last decade. However, because of this growth, there was a lot of confusion about who we were, what we did, and what we do best." With the help of pro-bono consultants, "Heyday had to sit down and really analyze what our strengths and weaknesses were, interview countless of people, and decide on the direction we wanted to take.
"So Heyday now has a new mission," Pi explained. "Heyday is an independent, nonprofit publisher and unique cultural institution. We promote widespread awareness and celebration of California's many cultures, landscapes, and boundary-breaking ideas."
They plan to achieve this via other means than just books.
"We organize nature walks, run campaigns, do citywide celebrations, bring movers and shakers into our offices to discuss the future of California. I think our mission and our tagline — 'into California' — sums all of this up for the world to see. If you want to learn more about California or want to have a true regional section in your bookstore about California, you come to us."
Heyday also has a new logo and a new catalog complete with a digital component.
"We've embraced the coming of e-books and if all goes well we should have our first e-book by the end of 2011," Pi said. "We have many exciting projects coming up — like one man's journey to photograph all the California glaciers before they disappear, and a woman's twenty-year odyssey to reimagine and paint every landscape in California as it once was before European contact."
In the reshuffle, what got chucked out?
"Heyday Books use to be under the umbrella of Heyday Institute," Pi said. "This was indicative of a larger issue within our organization because we were constantly pulled in two different directions. One mission was as a book-publishing house trying to publish creative and unique books about California. The second mission was as a nonprofit entity trying to preserve California culture. Not to mention we've also created two magazines since Heyday first started. Bay Nature has grown into its own organization. but we still produce News from Native California which is a quarterly magazine about California Indian culture.
"We realized the strength of our organization lies in combining the best of Heyday Books and Heyday Institute. That everything we do was, is, and always will be to help folks travel further into California, whether that is through our publications, our innovative programs, or our partnerships with other organizations."
Heyday's founder Malcolm Margolin added: "This is turning out to be not just an intellectual exercise but a search for the soul of Heyday. While I know there's a fire beneath the surface, I've never seen it directly, just lived off its reflected warmth. As we plunge ever onward, I can't think of anything more exciting, more promising, and more fulfilling."
In honor of its transformation, Heyday is giving away what it calls the California Desk Set — e.g. copies of Heyday's top twelve bestselling titles, including Journey to Topaz, Medicine Trails, and The Harvest Gypsies. For a chance to win, email firstname.lastname@example.org before August 31, 2010, and describe your favorite thing about California in nineteen words or less. One winner will be chosen at random.