John F. Kennedy once said that farmers buy everything at retail, sell everything at wholesale, and pay the freight both ways. The same thing could be said for small publishing companies.



a recent CSB from
The Public Press


The CSA Concept

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has thrown a lifeline to independent farming. In traditional farming, the farmer takes all the risk. He borrows from the bank to buy his seed and feed, and then invests his time, energy, and equipment in hopes of producing a crop that can then be sold profitably. A lot can go wrong along the way. Mother Nature can be nurturing or cruel. Prices can be high or low. Rarely do the vagaries work to the advantage of the farmer, and as a result family farms have become an endangered species.

In a CSA the community that has a vested interest in having the farm survive defray much of the risk by purchasing shares that entitle the buyer to a portion of the harvest. The farmer receives much needed working capital and the consumer is assured of the freshest, most wholesome products at a reasonable cost.

Promoting Free Speech Word-by-Word

Introducing CSBs
Community Supported Books


Our idea for a Community Supported Book was inspired directly by the concept of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

The publishing industry shares some of the challenges of farming. Just as the economic climate is forcing out small, independent farmers in favor of monocrop mega-farms, the media environment forces big firms to chase the same broad midsection of the market while ignoring the rest. The result is a narrowing of published thought, and the casualty is freedom of speech. Unworthy (but news-worthy) subjects are grossly over-exposed while other equally or more worthy projects never see the light of day.

A Community Supported Book (CSB) is designed to give birth to books (and related information products) that support the specific community. The community agrees, in advance, to defray the financial risk for the publisher. In return the publisher can custom-develop a product that otherwise would not be commercially viable.


The Public Press specializes in CSBs. We form partnerships with communities to give birth to books. While each situation will vary according to the project, typically the community will advance a set amount to cover the basics of manuscript development. These include:

  • Development of templates for individual community member input
  • Guidance and consulting on manuscript preparation
  • Text design and cover design in accordance with your creative ideas
  • Access to editorial services, including editing and proofreading
  • Management of print production, shipping or finished product, and distribution to bookstores, libraries, and internet booksellers
  • Aftermarket publicity

What is a "community?" Any group with affinity that wants to collect and present information in the form of a book qualifies. This can include:

  • Membership Organizations and Affinity Groups
  • Companies, Departments, and Agencies
  • Non-profits and NGOs
  • Schools, Churches, Classes
  • Individuals who share a passion or interest
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Foreword:
About The Class of 1970
by the Class of 1970



This project started without a name to describe the type of book that emerges. It is inspired by the term CSA. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has thrown a lifeline to independent farming. In traditional farming, the farmer takes all the risk. He borrows from the bank to buy his seed and feed, and then invests his time, energy, and equipment in hopes of producing a crop that can then be sold profitably. A lot can go wrong along the way. Mother Nature can be nurturing or cruel. Prices can be high or low. Rarely do the vagaries work to the advantage of the farmer, and as a result family farms have become an endangered species.

In a CSA the community that has a vested interest in having the farm survive defray much of the risk by purchasing shares that entitle the buyer to a portion of the harvest. The farmer receives much needed working capital and the consumer is assured of the freshest, wholesome products at a reasonable cost. A Community Supported Book (CSB) gives birth to books to support a specific community, in this case the Yale Class of 1970.

The idea for this book associated with the Class of 1970's thrity-fifth reunion was spawned around September 1, 2004. At least that's the date of the earliest email on the subject in my inbox. As a veteran of commercial publishing, I know that the usual gestation period between finished manuscript and printed word is one year. To go from the blank sheet of paper to finished product in nine months, without a designated author or more than minimal financial resources seemed ambitious to the point of foolhardy.

The strategy we embraced was to decentralize the authorship, make the production process virtual, and to utilize, on a volunteer basis, the embedded talent that we knew was out there. A chapter outline was structured, and then interactive forms created that could be accessed for the class website. By November we were ready to accept entries. A lot of drum beating was required to solicit contributions. Announcements were put in the Class Notes, mailings were sent with Reunion notices, postings were made on the class listserv, but would it be enough? Conventional marketing wisdom indicates that consumers need as many as twenty-seven exposures to a product before they are ready to make a purchase decision. Would we get enough classmates to understand that a book project was underway to generate a critical mass of material?

Our calls for volunteer editors produced a steady trickle of response. Every week or so a new email would arrive from someone asking "Can I help?" In the end we had almost a perfect match between the offers of editorial help and the available chapters.

Around the first of February the buckets of electrons were passed along to the chapter editors to shape into a semblance of coherence. What a disparate group! Lawyers, doctors, and accountants, spread from Santa Fe to Poland, all becoming wordsmiths for a month. But they did their jobs well! A volunteer proofreader even emerged at just the right time.

It's important to understand what this book is and is not. It is the work of enthusiastic amateurs, none of who regularly hang the title "author" after their names. Secondly, it is a labor of love. From the contributors to the editors to the designer, this is something that came at the expense of earned income, time off, or weekends with the kids.

But, ultimately, it worked. The individual voices became a chorus, and we have a record of our class, in and out of college, that tells a collective story.



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