I stopped at the Great Barrington Bagel Company as the first hot bagels were being tumbled into bins. Waiting for the tray of my favorite bagel – the Tornado, named for the 1995 tornado that tore up a swath of East Mountain starting just several hundred yards from the store – I listened to the women behind the counter talking about the huge number of tourists they’d waited on during Christmas week.
“So the snow’s been good for business?” I asked.
“Well, we’ve been busy,” one said slowly. “It’s been wall to wall people in here.” She looked me over and then burst out, “I don’t get why they don’t seem happy. They can afford to come up here to ski, they can afford the hotel, and eating out. But all they do is complain and moan. They’ve got everything, but what good does it do them?”
I’ve thought about this a lot since that early morning conversation (at right, by the way, you can see the bagel Christmas tree that was on display by the door). Happiness, the thing we wish for one another at the New Year, is apparently harder and harder for people to grasp. In China, happiness does not
seem to be increasing as standards of living rise, and in Britain there has been much discussion of measuring GWP – General Well-Being – as well as GDP.
What does happiness have to do with publishing? Not much, you might say, given the turmoil in our industry over e-books and iPads. But I’ve been finding that discussions about what it means to be happy crop up more and more often in scholarly research, and have particular relevance to sustainability. One quality-of-life survey focuses on “Life satisfaction, happiness, and sense of belonging,” which ties into my long-standing interest in community building. We’ll be including coverage of new ways of measuring prosperity – the so-called “Gross National Happiness” method associated with Bhutan but now being adopted by France and other countries – in the forthcoming Measurements, Indicators, and Research Methods volume of the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability, and in the various regional volumes of the encyclopedia we’ll look at consumerism, community, and contentment.
In the meantime, we are counting our blessings – which include running a business that enables us to work with and learn from a most extraordinary group of experts, and with publishing colleagues whose passion for sharing knowledge and building bridges matches our own.
The Law and Politics of Sustainability, Volume 3 of the 10-volume Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability, is now in print. Volume 3 explores legislation, conventions, directives, treaties, and protocols, and contains what is probably the most comprehensive coverage of environmental law around the world you can find. There are case studies that focus on precedent-setting laws. Other articles assess the contribution to sustainable development made by legal systems around the world. Our expert authors raise provocative questions about the effectiveness of international law versus national law in protecting the environment. They analyze the successes and shortcomings of present legal instruments, corporate and public policies, social movements, and conceptual strategies – offering readers a preview of steps we must take in order to develop laws and policies that will promote genuine sustainability. See a sample article on “Environmental Justice” at left, and click to view and download the full article. (The remaining volumes of the 10-volume Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability will be published in 2011. Standing orders and prepaid orders offer big savings, so do contact us for details.)
The ALA Midwinter issue of the renowned journal Against The Grain will be in our hands any day. Thanks to the help of staffer Bill Siever, I was able to guest edit an issue on “Sustainability” in the midst of everything else going on here. As ever, it’s a pleasure to work with Katina Strauch and her team. In addition to the excellent articles written by librarians with great knowledge of this subject, we’ve included preliminary results from the “Sustainability in Academic Libraries” survey. There is still time to participate in this important research, even if you are not at an academic library – there is a question at the end that will enable us to keep tabs on non-academic-library submissions. Please click here to join in.
Our next survey will focus on library resources needs and 25 participants will receive gift certificates to some of the finest restaurants in the Berkshires, good until the end of October. Yes, it’s a sneaky way to entice more of our friends and customers to visit this area in 2011 – not only is there great skiing at the moment, but the Berkshires also offer the summer music and theatre season, and the glories of a New England autumn.
On 10 January, as a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, I attended a China Economic Forecast forum at the New York Stock Exchange. A group of leading Chinese economists presented their views on China’s continued economic growth (despite rising inflation), the controversies over currency valuation, and their country’s place in the global market.
Coming away from the meeting, it has never been more clear how tightly our economies are entwined. We need to learn to stand together and work together – and to understand one another’s systems, methodologies, history, and values. China-US relations will be in the spotlight this week, in particular, as President Barack Obama welcomes PRC President Hu Jintao to the White House. This is the time to learn about China, and Berkshire offers a uniquely attractive, accessible, and authoritative range of publications for schools, libraries, and businesses. Looking at the Berkshire Encyclopedia of China: Modern and Historic Views of the World’s Newest and Oldest Global Power, several people have exclaimed, “This should be in every American library.” We agree, and we want to make that possible. If your library wants a set and simply cannot afford the list price of US$675, this is the week to contact us about a discount. We’re so enthusiastic about making a difference, and helping Americans and other Westerners understand China better, that we will do everything possible to get this important work into your library, and into the hands of your students and patrons. As Brian Coutts put it in Library Journal, when selecting the set as a Best Reference Title, this is a “sumptuous resource on all things China for the 21st century.”
You may also be interested in:
Brand China: Global Perceptions and Representations
The Internet in China: Online Business, Information, Distribution, and Social Connectivity
Education in China: Educational History, Models, and Initiatives
Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography
China Gold: China’s Quest for Global Power and Olympic Glory
Encyclopedia of Modern Asia
This Is China: The First 5,000 Years
We’re about to revamp our website to show off the changes underway as we take the rich information embedded in our thousands of encyclopedia articles – which I like to describe as “short-form, expert-written content” – into a variety of new formats, including online reading applications. The new edition of the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History looks breathtaking on the iPad, by the way, with its hundreds of gorgeous color images from museums and archives around the world.
We will announce details of the new series next month, as well as giving you information about compact paperback versions of some of our big titles. These will be affordable for smaller libraries, department offices, and individuals, too. Already launched is Berkshire’s “This World of Ours,” a series of slim books that provide the “big picture” on different aspects of world history. This Fleeting World and This Is China are our bestselling titles, and we expect This Is Islam to be equally welcome in the classroom and at the bookstore. We’re encouraging schools to order directly from us rather than from Amazon or a wholesaler because we can offer much better pricing on quantity orders. But of course we’re happy to be shipping out copies, no matter where the orders are placed!
With our warm wishes for a fruitful and very happy New Year,