Independent book publisher Chelsea Green announced today that due to a record-setting sales year and strong revenue growth, employees would each receive a $2500 end-of-year bonus. Leading the company’s record revenue growth was the strong sales of The Art of Fermentation , a New York Times bestselling book by self-described “fermentation fetishist” Sandor Katz. This is the fourth Chelsea Green book to make the list in the last 10 years.
Released in June, the $39.95, 500-page hardcover reference book features an inspiring foreword from Michael Pollan. After four printings there are now more than 50,000 copies in print.
“If Random House can give all their employees a $5000 bonus for 50 Shades of Grey, then Chelsea Green can give everyone a $2500 bonus due to the phenomenal success of The Art of Fermentation,” announced Margo Baldwin, president and publisher.
Call it 25 Shades of sauerkraut. Or, kim chi. Or kefir. Or Kombucha.
It’s fitting that in a year in which the mainstream publishing industry became domineered by erotic fiction and saw decreasing print book sales, Chelsea Green once again bucked the trend and saw double digit sales growth of its list that focuses on DIY living, organic food and farming, homesteading, and building community resiliency.
To be fair to the bacteria necessary to make all that delicious fermentation happen—they are probably having a grand old time reproducing in those bubbly crocks and mason jars.
Overall sales through November were up 30 percent year-to-date, with a 40 percent increase in ebook sales and a 29 percent increase in print book sales.
Sales were not all due to sauerkraut, however.
In 2012, Chelsea Green saw strong sales across the board and in all categories.
Chelsea Green saw strong overseas, and subrights, sales for 2052 by Jorgen Randers, a look forward at what the next 40 years will be like in the wake of increasing climate change, flat economic growth, and a growing population. Other top sellers, so far, included the first book in our Community Resilience Guides series (published in collaboration with Post Carbon Institute), Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman. The second book in that series, Power from the People  by Greg Pahl, was released in September. The third book, Rebuilding the Foodshed  by Philip Ackerman-Leist, will be released in March. Other top-selling books from 2012 include Janisse Ray’s remarkable book about seed saving, The Seed Underground , and Gov. Madeleine M. Kunin’s call for true family-friendly economic and workplace reforms in The New Feminist Agenda .
Two books released in Fall 2011 sold strongly throughout the year, too, those where Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins and The Holistic Orchard  by Michael Philips.
Keeping with tradition, Chelsea Green’s backlist continued to sell strong, with several older titles ranking among the top-selling 25 books of the year. Those include Katz’s earlier book, Wild Fermentation , as well as Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden , Elliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook , Harvey Ussery’s Small-Scale Poultry Flock , Mat Stein’s When Technology Fails , and the book Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning .
The end-of-year sales and revenue announcement comes on the heels of a busy year for Chelsea Green Publishing, its staff, and its authors.
In June, the company became employee-owned, making it one of only a handful of independent book publishers that can claim employee-ownership status, and of those Chelsea Green will be near the top in terms of the percentage of stock controlled by its employees. After the transaction, nearly 80 percent of the stock is held by employees; the remaining percentage remains in control of Margo and Ian Baldwin, the company’s founders.In 2012, Chelsea Green was recognized by ForeWord Reviews as its 2011 Publisher of the Year, in which the company was recognized for its “significant contributions in the categories of politics and sustainable living.”
At the start of the year, Chelsea Green added staff in an ongoing effort to expand its digital offerings and improve its existing online presence, as well as provide greater outreach and publicity support for its authors.