The Lantern Books Blog: Lantern's Tenth Anniversary Party
October 9, 2009 10:50am
An Offering of Leaves
So, we at Lantern finally got around to recognizing that we've been in existence for ten years and decided to tag on an admittedly very abstemious party on to a booksigning at Jivamukti Yoga School
in Union Square, Manhattan, for Ruth Lauer-Manenti's An Offering of Leaves
. The signing was a roaring success, and I think most Lanternites had a good time. There'll be video and photos soon of what happened. In the meantime, there follows the speech I gave to thank all the folks who've made Lantern possible.
It’s fitting that Lantern should celebrate at Jivamukti, and with the launch of An Offering of Leaves, since the place and the book represent in many ways what we've been trying to accomplish at Lantern: which is, within an industry that can be all surface and transience, to produce a body of work that lasts; one, moreover, that communicates certain values: nonviolence, compassion for all living beings, living lightly on the land, and physical and spiritual health based on a practice that honors the Earth, self, and others.
Neither Jivamukti nor Lantern may know directly how deeply the changes we both advocate may be taking root. There are days, I'm sure, when we find ourselves, metaphorically or literally, upside down, staring at our feet, and wondering whether we could be doing something more worthwhile. But then we do our practice, speak our words, and hope the space created by the knowledge we place before the world is filled with a little light and truth.
It's also appropriate that we celebrate at Jivamukti, because we both aim to align spiritual life with practice, and set aside doctrine and dogma and ignorance. Lantern shares that ecumenical spirit. In the course of ten years, we've published a Jewish Hindu, an Indian evangelical Christian, an American Taoist acupuncturist, an Indian Ayurvedist, an African Catholic, a Japanese theosophist, two American Buddhists, a whole clerestory of monastics, three Catholic priests, two psychics, a Unitarian minister, militant atheists, and many others. We've published two authors over ninety and two under twelve; we've published a very tall Trappist monk and a very short Buddhist nun.
We've published two Dr. Ruths, two Davises, and books on turkeys, rabbits, cats, dogs, cows, and chickens. We've published so-called terrorists and political prisoners, law-and-order experts, psychologists of every stripe, and somebody convicted of a terrible crime. We've covered the waterfront on the vegan diet and religion and animal rights, and we're still going. At every juncture we've tried to emphasize peace; all the while committed to the fundamental right to speak your mind freely and without censure.
We've tried to walk our talk as a company. Lantern was the first publisher to sign up to the Green Press Initiative's program to publish on recycled paper, and as a result we've saved thousands of trees, lots of water, and quite a few BTUs of energy. Like many Lantern titles, Ruth's book is published on 100 percent, post-consumer waste, recycled paper. Of course, we wouldn't have had anything to print if it hadn't been for our authors, who've been, on the whole, a patient and forbearing lot. I can only say "Thank you" for entrusting your words to us. You may not have become rich at Lantern, but I hope your work's richness was honored.
None of what we've done would have been possible without the many people who've worked at Lantern. Patrick, our first intern, and Kelly; our international crew—Nida (from Thailand) and Roger (from Barcelona); Teal and Ellie and Obinna and Duane and Samantha. Thanks also to our employees such as Ewa and Erin, Sarah and Olivia, Alyssa, and the irrepressible Anne Sullivan, who brought us our most successful book, No Easy Answers. I'd like to thank a whole Argo of Jasons—Atkins, Das, and Palmer—who helped us move forward. They could form a law firm or a progressive rock group, but, please God, not both. I also want to acknowledge the numerous freelancers who've done stuff for us; our printers and their representatives (Susan Ginch, Jeff McDonald, Jim Palmer, John Sinclair. and Chris Shore); our distributors, and distributees—Deep Books UK; Ceres in New Zealand; Books International; Alison and Jim and Aimee of Vertebrae of San Francisco, who designed our lovely moth logo; Sabine Weeke and Findhorn Press; Murray and Nathan and Marisa of Chiron Books; and, of course, Jens, Stefan, Mary, Chris, Andy, and Marcia at our sister company of Steiner Books, who've shared the ups and downs with us over the last eight years.
I'd like to express my gratitude for our current team—Kara Davis, who's over by our Lantern table, and is so calm, so good-natured, and so competent that I am in awe. I can only thank Amy Trakinski for recommending her to Lantern. It's wonderful to have Evander Lomke back with us. Also my deep appreciation (and thus public embarrassment) of Laura Leslie, who's been with us almost since she was born—I'm sure she sometimes feels that way—and who has managed the sixty websites that we've been responsible for with incredible diligence and quiet efficiency. Thanks to our web clients—our friends at ACTA, Fordham and Georgetown university presses, Conari, RedWheel, Weiser, Watson-Guptill, Meg and William at monastic interreligious dialogue, the Green Belt Movement and Norris Chumley and Jack Dreyfus, and all the other folks we've worked for over the decade. Without you, we wouldn't be here.
I'd like to acknowledge Mia MacDonald, Lantern's invisible super-ego, whose judgment is infuriatingly always right. And finally Gene Gollogly, who co-founded Lantern with me and who has put up with my impatience and intemperance and occasional craziness with generosity and kindness. He's as good a business partner and friend as anyone could wish for. I don't thank him enough for what he's done, so I'd like to do so now.
It's not always been easy—publishing never is; and Gene and I have made our share of mistakes. Therefore, it seems appropriate in a place where you bow down to the teacher in everyone, that on our behalf, I do something that management does all too rarely: apologize. We'd like to apologize for the missed chances, botched jobs, works unfairly rejected, and marketing opportunities squandered. I'm sorry if we were overbearing or not present enough, for the contradictory messages and false starts, or insanely ill-thought-out decisions that affected you and the company. Perhaps, with better management, we could have been bigger or bolder or braver. But whatever we could have been, this is what we are. And ten years and 150 titles later, we're still here.
Which brings me to the book we're celebrating tonight: An Offering of Leaves. I want to thank Jill Seslowsky for designing and making the beautiful poster; Katherine Pew, Jessica Kung, Stephane Dreyfus, Rima Rabbath, David Life, Sharon Gannon, and most particularly Andrea Boyd for all of the incredible enthusiasm and dedication they brought to the project. It's rare that so many people with so much talent have made so much effort for no remuneration other than the joy the act of giving can bring. I want to thank Stefan Killen for his lovely designs, and for being a good egg; and Tim Cramer, who recorded the CD of Ruth's book.
Before I hand over to Sharon, I want to mention that a portion of the proceeds of the sale of An Offering of Leaves is going to a charity that Ruth will tell you about. The website for the charity is saraswatishands.org, and you can learn more about it online. The address for where to send your money is also in the back of every book. It's a truly worthy cause, and I've decided to make it the charity for which I am running this year's New York City marathon, and to which Lantern will give $1,000 to start the race. I hope you take the opportunity to pledge to the organization or by putting money in the box. Lantern is also producing a CD of Ruth reading and singing An Offering of Leaves. Once Lantern has recouped the costs of making it, all the proceeds will go to the charity. Each segment of Offering will also soon be available on i-Tunes.
Finally, for those of you wanting to know what you can do to support Offering, or any of our books, I'd just say—take a catalogue and talk about the book: to your neighbors, friends, family, reviewers, famous people, and get the word out. You are the best publicity for Ruth's and our work, and she (and we) rely on you.