Malcolm Margolin founded Heyday Books in Berkeley in 1974 and has been leading the way on telling the lesser-told stories about California ever since. In all 350 titles, of which 200 are still in print. "Heyday Books has been telling stories about California that might otherwise never be known: intimate descriptions of an Ohlone Indian village by San Francisco Bay; stories about Allensworth, the African American utopian community that sprung up in the Central Valley in the early 20th century; Joaquin Miller's accounts of life among the early settlers of far Northern California - to name a few," the San Francisco Chronicle writes in a story on the 40th anniversary and a new book by Heyday on its own story and Margolin, now 73.
The last ten years, Heyday has operated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. From the Chronicle:
At the center of all the storytelling is Heyday founder Malcolm Margolin, a man who lives by the rule that "anything that gets you out of the office is good." He roams the state, hanging out with Native Americans, artists, writers, naturalists, just about anyone who has a story. Out of these experiences has come a large portion of the eclectic Heyday catalog, including Margolin's own account of the Ohlones before the white man came.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Heyday just published "The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin: The Damn Good Times of a Fiercely Independent Publisher." Heyday editor Kim Bancroft compiled the collection of oral histories by Margolin and his family, Heyday staffers and authors.
In the book, Margolin's children, Reuben, Sadie and Jake, remember growing up in rented houses full of books - boxes and boxes of them filling bathrooms and hallways. Their beds consisted of plywood boards placed over boxes of books.
The Margolins were so financially strapped in those years that they moved light bulbs from room to room. To this day, Malcolm and his wife, Rina, are renters in Berkeley.
Money was never of great importance to Margolin. Producing beautiful, carefully crafted books always was. "I'm sure he's had to worry all the time about the finances of Heyday Books," said his son Jake in an e-mail. "But I never heard him talk about a project positively or negatively based on whether it turned a profit."
Photo of Margolin: Pt. Reyes Books