The American Humanist Association Gets Into ePublishing

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.)

Last week, the AHA announced this endeavor at the National Press Club:

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.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • AndyTK

    I’m not so sure that the authors you mentioned are selling to the religious.  If I had to put money down I’d say most of their books are sold to Atheists looking for arguments to defend their position and make theists look silly.  I can see people that are already unsure about their faith but not yet fully Atheists buying these books, but not the church three times a month crowd.

    • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Thomas Lawson

      My friend told me that her born-again mother was reading passages of my book aloud to her. (I apologized to said friend for such awkwardness, but I liked hearing that it moved her mom.) I just hope her mom was concentrating on her comprehension more than her enunciation. And a Catholic relative had to ask me whether I was a nonbeliever or not, which I took as proof of my mad journalistic skills.

  • bigred

    Great timing, my Kindle should arrive in the mail tomorrow.

  • Ubi Dubius

    Willl you have something for the Humanist Press to publish?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Not for the time being, but who knows? :)

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Thomas Lawson

    I don’t think people are squeamish about buying eBooks from self-publishers (raises hand), but it would be beneficial to have a Pub. House that we can all go to that will vet the types of works that might make us cringe at all the typos and bad arguments.

  • John W.

    I’m an atheist that spent my weekend (while everyone was at the Reason Rally) coming out to my parents as an atheist.  This was difficult considering that my father is Mennonite, and my mother’s father was a minister.

    I’m VERY appreciative of sites like yours… I’m learning more about the Freethinking, Humanist, and Atheist movements and it gives me tools to have the discussions I need to have with those of faith around me. 

    BUT… you shouldn’t call this site the Friendly Atheist!  It should be the Condescending Atheist.  I understand your audience is people who are already atheist, but you are not helping them use your content in conversation with those of faith when you include phrases like “They’re geared toward people who still believe in god, not at those of us who already know better.”

    My point is… educate with logic and reason… share your knowledge… but do it with love and compassion, not with back-handed slaps.  Otherwise, you risk turning away new members of this community like me that do appreciate an environment of respect, compassion, and love they had in their old community of faith (one of the reasons it is so hard to walk away).  We need to replace what we have lost with a community that provides a similar level of support.  Talking this way teaches us to talk down to those we are trying to convince, which only creates enemies… not converts.


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