How Berrett-Koehler is Driving Growth in 2019


Posted by Shabnam Banerjee-McFarland - 14 May, 2019

For the second year in a row, Publishers Weekly has named BK one of the fastest growing independent publishers. How did we do it? We want to take a moment to reflect and extend gratitude to the ways Berrett-Koehler has pushed boundaries and broadened our horizons over the past year. Evidenced by the leadership transition, as well as the dedication to strengthen relationships with our distributor Penguin Random House Publisher Services and expand into new markets, we continue to embrace our mission in creating meaningful and lasting change.

The Rise & Return of Digital Sales 

In January 2018, we began our partnership with Penguin Random House Publisher Services, the world’s largest global book distributor, to sell our books. Since this partnership began, we’ve seen our international print book sales nearly double and increased domestic sales over 2017.

Digital sales surged in the last three months of 2018, driven largely by our ongoing partnership with Humble Bundle, a company that offers digital content—games, software, and ebooks—largely as a way of raising money for charity. Customers pay what they want, and the money is split between the content provider (meaning, in this case, us), Humble Bundle, and the charity of our choice. Customers can even decide how much they want to donate to charity.

In 2018, we offered a group of ebooks in what we called the Leadership Now bundle, which was purchased by 13,744 people and raised a great deal of money for our chosen charity First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children in need. In March of 2019, we offered a self-help ebook bundle called Debug Your Life.

Expanding into Online Learning

In September 2019, we’ll be hosting an online summit looking at new models for creating an inclusive economy, cohosted by scholar and Conscious Capitalism coauthor Raj Sisodia and Berrett-Koehler author Tiffany Jana, president of diversity firm TMI Consulting. Among the speakers will be John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and coauthor of Conscious Capitalism, and Jay Coen Gilbert, cofounder of B Lab, the organization that certifies B Corporations (like Berrett-Koehler, not to brag or anything).

This builds on the success we’ve already had with online events. In 2017 we held the Servant Leadership Online Training Summit, hosted by Ken Blanchard, that featured over 40 experts and drew in 20,000 people from 146 countries. In 2018, our Women’s Leadership Online Summit, cohosted by our new president and publisher, Johanna Vondeling, and Rinku Sen, author, activist, strategist, and former executive director of Race Forward, posted similar numbers: 31 presenters and over 20,000 participants from 146 countries.

We also launched our first online training program in 2018, the Dare to Serve Online Training, featuring Cheryl Bachelder, author of Dare to Serve

To truly connect people and ideas to create a world that works for all, we value a diversity of ideas, platforms, products, markets, and channels as part and parcel to this lofty mission. Thanks to the coactive and collaborative leadership model that influences our community as a whole, BK is showing no signs of slowing down.

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