As Storey marks its 35th anniversary as a company and a new book about gratitude arrives on shelves, publisher Deborah Balmuth considers the numbers — and calculates what can’t be counted.
Is there special meaning in numbers? There are schools of thought that say so.
I’ve been thinking a lot about numbers lately. This year — 2018 — marks Storey’s 35th birthday. What do we have to show for three-and-a-half decades of publishing? For one, we have 669 different titles currently in print. Our highest-performing book is our classic gardening title Carrots Love Tomatoes, a title that has been in print continuously since 1975 (when Storey Publishing was still known as Garden Way Publishing). Carrots Love Tomatoes has been reprinted 84 times, resulting in 790,000 copies out in the world — whew! Speaking of the world, Storey books have been translated into 31 different languages over the years, from Finnish to Thai.
One thing that can’t be quantified is the gratefulness I feel when reflecting on notes of gratefulness we’ve received from enthusiastic readers all around the globe, people whose passions for everything from growing more vegetables and raising ducks to brewing the best kombucha have been fed by Storey books. Which reminds me of a quotation — one of more than 250 quotes artfully curated by A Network for Grateful Living in their new book, Everyday Gratitude.
Seeing these words in the book’s pages reminded me of the impact Howard Thurman had on my life many years ago. In 1983, I was working at Boston University, where Dr. Thurman had served as dean of the chapel decades earlier.
Having grown up in an interfaith home with parents who encouraged me to look for the common values among different traditions and cultures, I found inspiration in Thurman’s writings and his work as an advocate of nonviolence and key mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders.
Seeing that quote today and looking back at that time in my young adult life, I now see that exploring what makes me “come alive” is what led me to this career. Creating with my hands, immersing myself in nature, learning new skills, reading, and playing with new ideas and perspectives are the things that make me feel most excited and engaged with life. Quite wonderfully, they are all things I’m grateful to have had the chance to experience in working at Storey.
Coincidentally, in 1983 — while I was at Boston University discovering Dr. Thurman’s work — John and Martha Storey were getting their start-up publishing company, Storey Communications, off the ground in a former motorcycle shop in Pownal, Vermont. Ten years later, when I joined the company, Storey had already published a wealth of technique books on small-scale farming, animal raising, vegetable gardening, building barns, and topics related to country living and self-sufficiency.
Over the course of my years at Storey, I’ve had the opportunity to expand our reach into topics like natural soapmaking, nature journaling, herbal medicine, and mindful living. It’s been an incredible honor to work with Storey authors and help them birth the books that put new skills and knowledge into the hands of so many people — to help them grow their own food, make their own medicines, craft beautiful homes and clothing, and bring more beauty and joy into their daily lives.
The Dalai Lama might not have been referring to actions like backyard chicken-keeping or growing heirloom tomatoes when speaking to the origins of happiness, but why not? Our books nurture individual actions that have the possibility of bringing happiness into the world — along with fresh eggs and juicy fruits!
So, on the occasion of Storey’s 35th anniversary (and, coincidentally, my 25th anniversary here), Everyday Gratitude feels like the perfect birthday tribute, celebrating with gratefulness too great to count, all that we love about hands-on living. Every rake of a hoe, lift of a stitch, trim of a hoof, slice of a freshly harvested radish, and fleeting glimpse of an owl is an act of gratitude for the richness of life. All those little things add up to quite a lot. For, as all of us at Storey — authors, staff, and readers alike — agree: