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McSweeney’s publishing goes non-profit

Dave Eggers’ San Francisco−based publishing house, McSweeney’s, is slated to become a non-profit organization within the next year, joining the list of the author’s other non-profit initiatives: 826, ScholarMatch, and Voice of Witness.

mcsweeneys01Eggers told the San Francisco Chronicle that the company has been considering switching for about five years, as many of its acquisition interests present financial risks rather than the potential for profits.

“It just seemed that increasingly so many of the things we wanted to do were non-profit projects and were not really things you could reasonably expect to break even on,” Eggers said. “The taste of the editors and the staff ran toward really worthy books and worthy undertakings and anthologies and series that … didn’t necessarily indicate profit. We never expected to do anything financially that would set us up for life or anything. But to lose money is hard, and there really doesn’t seem to be any reason to do that.”

It was during a “serendipitous” meeting with HeyDey Books founder Malcolm Margolin− who transformed his independent publishing house into a non-profit organization a decade ago− that Eggers saw how the same change could be tenable at McSweeney’s.

The small press is already operating under the independent non-profit SOMArts, which allows for some tax-deductible donations. Becoming an official non-profit will mean the opportunity for grants, crowd-funding, self-soliciting donations for specific projects, expanding its offerings, and, for Eggers, more time to focus on writing.

“I increasingly want to carve out as much time as I can to write, not to manage,” he told The Chronicle. “The beauty is that as a non-profit, the company won’t sink or swim any given season based on whether or not I have a book out.”

Eggers said that McSweeney’s will remain open and fully functional during the transition and that he does not anticipate any changes to the editorial team. The McSweeney’s website has been outfitted with links for readers to donate and join their membership program.