The American Humanist Association announced yesterday that Humanist Press — their publishing arm since 1995 — would now be the first freethought publisher to put out brand new books in electronic form (for Kindles, Nooks, etc). (Note: Prometheus Books, which also focuses on the freethought community, puts out ebooks as well, but their focus has historically been on the print versions.)
It’s the AHA’s attempt to break into the burgeoning ebook world and it stands to be fairly successful. There aren’t too many publishers for atheist books but there’s an audience out there that’s hungry for them.
Working with e-publishing software from Impelsys, Humanist Press ebooks will take full advantage of the available features, including interactive reader commentary, author videos, and useful web links. Ebooks from Humanist Press will be available at all the major online sites, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Ebooks, and the Apple iBookstore. They will also be available from our own website: www.humanistpress.com.
The first title to be released under HP will be Herb Silverman‘s Candidate Without A Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt. (A hardcover edition of the book will be published simultaneously, courtesy of Pitchstone Publishing.)
There’s another potential upside to this. If AHA can make this work, it means 1) More atheist authors could find exposure for their work and 2) There could be more competition in the atheist publishing world, leading to a more diverse assortment of books for us.
Right now, most of the books for atheists put out by mainstream publishers are all about disproving the existence of god or showing why religion is bad. Think Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens — great books but not a ton of variety. They’re geared toward people who still believe in god, not at those of us who already know better.
With more publishers focused exclusively on our community, and more opportunities to publish books, you may start to see, for example, an uptick in books about raising families without religion, books for children of atheist parents, books about dealing with religious friends/family, etc.
Right now, those books might be out there, but they have a tough time finding an audience — or a publisher. This venture has a lot of potential, so let’s hope it succeeds.