[Photo by Daniel Andrade on Unsplash]
Windhorse Publications is one of only a handful of Buddhist publishers in the West, and, to our knowledge, we’re the only Buddhist publisher based in the UK. For the past forty-five years, the books we’ve published (by Sangharakshita and other authors) have been instrumental in the continued spread of the Dharma to the West and have formed a rich treasure-trove of resources for the Triratna Buddhist Community. Our vision is for Windhorse Publications to continue to spread life-changing Dharma teachings ever more widely for the next forty-five years… and beyond.
As an independent publisher, our margins are pretty slim. Most of our sales are via small bookshops, including those at Buddhist Centres, so in March, when the UK went into lockdown and bookshops closed, our income was severely impacted. Our new director, Dhammamegha, and our new financial controller, Satyapara, in consultation with our board of trustees, put together an action plan to reduce our expenses and partially compensate for our loss of income, to give us a chance of surviving financially.
Part of the action plan involved turning to you, our customers, for help. And what generosity you’ve shown us! Here are some of the ways in which you’ve supported us this year:
- buying directly from our website (rather than via Amazon, who take a very large cut)
- making donations (Whether £1 or £100, every donation has been gratefully received.)
- sponsoring our upcoming books (It can cost up to £8,000 to publish a book and sponsorship helps us meet these upfront costs.)
- becoming a supporter (£30 per year gives you 25% off everything apart from subscriptions.)
We’d like to say a heartfelt thank you for your support throughout this year, particularly as many of you may be facing your own financial challenges. The long-term financial effects of the pandemic are, of course, unknown, and are likely to be significant, but we’re feeling encouraged to have reached the end of 2020 intact. With your continued support, we stand a good chance of being able to survive further challenges so that we can continue to benefit future generations of Dharma practitioners.
2020 at Windhorse Publications
At the beginning of January Dhammamegha joined us as our new director. For the first eight weeks she worked alongside our outgoing director, Priyananda, while he trained her in the role and gradually handed over responsibilities to her.
In February we held a farewell party for Priyananda, as well as for our financial controller, Lee Walford, and one of our trustees, Ratnaghosha, who were also leaving us. We welcomed Satyapara as our new financial controller and Sarvajit as a new trustee.
In early March Priyananda retired and Dhammamegha officially took over as director. In mid-March we announced the upcoming release of Uncontrived Mindfulness: ending suffering through attention, curiosity and wisdom by Vajradevi and made it available for sponsorship. Originally scheduled for release in October this year, it’s now due for release in March 2021. You can still sponsor Uncontrived Mindfulness here.
Towards the end of March, the coronavirus pandemic went global and the UK went into lockdown. In response, we launched Free the Dharma, regularly giving away eBooks. This initiative is still running, and to date we’ve given away thirty-four different eBook titles. We also started offering free shipping on all orders, which we continued until the end of July.
At the beginning of April, we launched our third lockdown initiative, our Stay at Home Sale, offering discounts on selected paperbacks. This initiative’s still going, too, rebranded as the Monthly Sale. Find out which titles we’re discounting this month.
Despite the lockdown, we were still able to release this year’s three volumes in The Complete Works of Sangharakshita on schedule, in early April. They were Volume 14: The Eternal Legacy / Wisdom Beyond Words, Volume 23: Moving Against the Stream and Volume 25: Poems and Short Stories.
Towards the end of April Helen and Michelle were furloughed and book production was put on hold. Helen came back to work for a week in June so that Dhammamegha could take a well-earned break. In July Michelle and Helen came back to work part time and production restarted.
From August the whole team was back at work full time, preparing for the publication of three new books. The first two, released in September, were by Bhikkhu Anālayo: Introducing Mindfulness, an accessible beginner’s guide, and Mindfulness in Early Buddhism, an invaluable resource for experienced practitioners. The third, released in October, was It’s Not Out There by Danapriya, a practical guide to making the most of your life.
With the whole team working from home, continuing to rent office space didn’t make financial sense, and in November we moved out of our office on Sturton Street. We now rent a room at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre where we store our archive and where we’ll be able to hold team meetings – as soon as regulations allow!
In November we reprinted a key text in Triratna that had been out of print for a while: Sangharakshita’s The Ten Pillars of Buddhism, in which he explores the ethical foundation of Buddhist practice through the ten precepts that members of the Triratna Buddhist Order take on at ordination.
In December one of our best-selling titles was released as an audiobook. It’s the award-wining Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction by Valerie Mason-John (Vimalasara) and Dr Paramabandhu Groves.
In December we announced the upcoming release of I Hear Her Words: An Introduction to Women in Buddhism by Alice Collett and made it available for sponsorship. It’s due for release in May 2021. You can sponsor I Hear Her Words here.
We’ll be announcing our plans for 2021 in January. In the meantime, whatever you’re doing over the next couple of weeks, may you be safe and well, and may you find plenty of time for reading!