The Printed Page: Independent Book Publishers in Berkeley

If you’ve ever contemplated writing a book, the romantic notion is well fed by the community of writers in Berkeley, further nourished by such wonderful organizations as Left Margin Lit, the Writing Salon and the Berkeley Writers Workshop at BAMPFA. But then comes the inevitable question of how one gets published. Well, behind closed doors, editors are scribbling marginalia and clarifying proofs as Berkeley is home to so many independent publishing houses of all ilk and size, with myriad specialty areas. Here are just a few scattered around town:

Ten Speed Press was probably one of the earliest publishing houses to lay roots in Berkeley. Founded in 1971 by Philip Wood, Ten Speed’s all-time best-seller is What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles. The book, which was first published in 1972, has sold more than ten million copies in 20 different languages. Ten Speed Press also published the iconic Berkeley kitchen bible, the Moosewood Cookbook. Since its early beginnings, the publisher has undergone several transitions and is currently part of the Crown Publishing Group division, currently publishing 150 books a year under all of its imprints.


Counterpoint Press was created in 2007 by acquiring 3 independent presses: Counterpoint, Shoemaker & Hoard, and Soft Skull Press. According to its website, CP defines itself as author-driven, devoting “all energy to the fresh, cutting-edge, and literary voices of our authors. The genres we cover are vast—fiction and nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and anthologies, all of which collectively focus on current affairs and politics, counterculture, music, history, memoir, literary biography, religion, and philosophy. Counterpoint books are distributed by Publishers Group West, a division of the Perseus Books Group. Their office is located in West Berkeley.


Heyday Books defines itself as an independent, nonprofit publisher and unique cultural institution promoting “widespread awareness and celebration of California’s many cultures, landscapes, and boundary-breaking ideas. Through our well-crafted books, public events, and innovative outreach programs we are building a vibrant community of readers, writers, and thinkers.” One of the first books I read after moving to the Bay Area was Heyday Books bestseller “The Ohlone Way” which transported me back in time and shined a brilliant historical perspective on the environment in which we live here in Berkeley and around the Bay. Heyday’s office is located in downtown Berkeley.


New Harbinger Publications specializes in self-help books on a range of topics in psychology, health and personal growth. NHP was launched in 1973 by phychologist Matthew McKay and writer Patrick Fanning with the objective of providing “real tools for real change”. Their offices are located in South Berkeley.

Co-founder Jake Warner

Nolo Need legal counsel but can’t afford it? Nolo provides books and other do-it-yourself media materials for legal issues. Nolo was founded by two legal aid lawyers who were working to help low-income families in the San Francisco Bay Area, Charles (Ed) Sherman and Ralph (Jake) Warner.

Filling a unique niche, Nolo is recognized as a pioneer in putting everyday legal processes at the fingertips of individuals and small businesses. Nolo’s bookstore is located at 950 Parker Street in West Berkeley.

North Atlantic Books Their website says it best, “North Atlantic Books is a nonprofit publisher committed to an eclectic exploration of the relationships between mind, body, spirit and nature. Founded in 1974 (and based in Berkeley since 1977) by Richard Grossinger and Lindy Hough, NAB aims to nurture a holistic view of the arts, sciences, humanities, and healing. NAB is located in South Berkeley and has a number of distinguished imprints.


And we’re just on page one. Visit these websites soon to read more backstory on this coterie of book publishers in your own back yard. You might just get inspired to take pen to paper.


*Photos courtesy of individual publishers websites*







Mary Corbin

Mary Corbin

Mary Corbin is a writer and artist who has lived in Berkeley for 32 years. She is always amazed with finding something new around the next corner while out on a walk, biking in the hills, or chatting with locals about food or fun events around town. Visit her cycling blog at and drop her a line. And view her work as an artist at
Mary Corbin