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Proud to be an independent, employee-owned company, New Harbinger’s mission has always been clear: to get self-help resources into the hands of the people who need them the most. For over forty years, New Harbinger has continued this mission, publishing evidence-based books and pioneering workbooks to help readers make positive lifestyle changes, improve mental health and well-being, and achieve personal growth. Our books also serve as powerful resources for mental health professionals to build their practice and better serve clients.
So, how did it all start?
The year was 1973. Two recently graduated college friends had returned from a cross-country adventure jumping freight trains, hitchhiking, selling a mimeographed literary magazine, and pondering how they could make a difference in the world. Both men had a passion for literature, poetry, and, above all, a fierce do-everything-yourself attitude.
These two young men, psychology graduate student Matthew McKay and writer Patrick Fanning, envisioned a lifetime of doing what they love, so they set out to create a publishing company. Little did they know they were in for the ride of their life.
Their first project was a poetry broadside. But that wasn’t enough for the two ambitious young men. Matt’s friend, Martha Davis, was a psychologist who saw a need to help her clients cope with the debilitating effects of stress.
Together she and Matt (along with Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman) penned The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook—a book that is still in print today and boasts sales of more than one million copies. With the publication of that seminal work, the genre of the 2013 self-help workbook was born, as was New Harbinger Publications.
Over the years McKay mined his experience as a practicing psychologist and Fanning employed his raw, entrepreneurial grit to carve out a solid and respected niche in evidence-based psychology and self-help publishing. Together they published books to help millions of people find relief from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, chronic stress, and many other common diagnoses. They also published protocols for mental health professionals who chose to use evidence-based methods to treat their clients.
New Harbinger has grown into a thriving company while providing a fulfilling work environment for over fifty employees. Today, New Harbinger is majority employee-owned, instilling pride and responsibility of ownership in every employee.
Over 40 years of evidence-based self-help
The values of our founders have, since the beginning, directed our publishing program. We value books that address the real problems of our readers. We value research-based and clinically proven books, written by respected, experienced clinical professionals. We value books that are concise and easy for every reader to understand. Our dedication to these standards has made us the first choice for general readers and professionals looking for effective, reliable information on a range of mental health, medical, and personal growth topics.
New Harbinger’s self-help books and workbooks are grounded in science, careful research, and a tradition of empirically validated clinical practice. Many of our books are based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a method that has time and again been proven effective for treating a broad range of psychological problems. New Harbinger is also in the vanguard of developments in clinical practice. We are the leading publisher of books based in the “third wave” of behavior therapy. Using acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), these books combine traditional cognitive and behavior-therapy techniques with other approaches like mindfulness and acceptance.
New Harbinger books are distinguished and respected. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook has sold more than a million copies. It is widely regarded as the definitive self-help resource for anxiety sufferers, and thousands of professionals worldwide rely on it as an indispensable part of their practices.
Our books are widely recommended by therapists, psychiatrists, and physicians to their patients and clients. The books have received accolades from reviewers in the health care and publishing industries alike, and many have remained in print for decades—a testament to their enduring quality and value.
1973: Harbinger Publications is founded.
1979: Publishes its first self-help book, The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, which the founders typeset, prepared, and printed themselves. The book is sold primarily through direct mail.
1981: Publishes its second self-help workbook, Thoughts & Feelings.
· Publishers Group West (PGW) begins distributing New Harbinger Publications books.
1982: Company moves out of Pat’s back bedroom into its first office—an open warehouse space in Emeryville, California.
· New Harbinger hires its first full-time employee— Dorothy Smyk—who is still with the company.
1983: Publishes its third self-help book, Messages.
· New Harbinger is incorporated.
1987: Publishes Self-Esteem.
· New Harbinger buys and builds its current office space in Oakland, California. Five expansions and the addition of a new building across the street later, it is still there.
1991: Begins to publish medical self-help.
1993: Publishes its 100th book.
· Sales top $2 million.
2000: Pat Fanning retires.
· New Harbinger develops a management team (The executive council) that continues to guide the company. Most of the original executive council members remain today.
2002: Develops its own sales team in preparation for leaving PGW and distributing its books directly to the trade.
2004: Becomes an ESOP, employee-owned company. Employees currently own 53% of the stock- controlling interest.
· Publishes its first book on acceptance & commitment therapy (ACT). More than 72 ACT books have been published to date, and New Harbinger is the leading publisher of third-wave behavior therapy books.
2005: Publishes its first book on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
2007: Acquires Instant Help Books, a leading publisher of evidence-based self-help books for children, parents, and teens.
2008: Acquires Context Press, a leading publisher of professional books on behavioral analysis as well as mindfulness and acceptance therapies.
2009: Acquires a second building.
· Begins publishing e-books.
2010: Passes fifty employees.
2012: Passes $15 million in sales.
· Has its first New York Times bestseller (The Untethered Soul) by Michael Singer.
2013: New Harbinger turns forty. Matthew McKay turns an unspeakable number.
2015: Acquires Impact Publishers, a publisher whose motto, “Psychology you can use, from professionals you can trust” has informed its select list of psychology and self-help books for decades.
· Acquires Non-Duality Press, the leading publisher of books on the contemporary spiritual philosophy of non-duality.
Friends we’ve met along the way
“Always coming from a genuine understanding of the sometimes complex issues people face, New Harbinger takes the greatest care to create books that provide concrete tools for change. I worked with Matt McKay and Pat Fanning for many years during my tenure at Publishers Group West. They are authentic, fiercely independent publishers who carved out an important and permanent niche. Congratulations on forty years of publishing excellence. May your legacy live on for another forty.”
—Charlie Winton, publisher of Counterpoint Press
“When I first wrote my book, The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, New Harbinger was the first publisher I considered, based on my admiration for their comprehensive classic, The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook. Twenty-five years and over a million copies later, the company is still promoting my workbook, as well as their now-famous workbook on stress reduction. Few [self-help] publishers would stand by any book that long. Throughout my years of experience with New Harbinger, the various staff with whom I’ve worked have always been exceptionally responsive and helpful. Many other New Harbinger authors share a similar view.”
—Edmund J. Bourne, PhD, author of The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook
“New Harbinger has been with the contextual CBT community every step of the way. It has taken risks—it has pushed the envelope. It has lifted up new authors, and given experienced hands new platforms. Like the great publishing houses of the past, New Harbinger is not just making books—it’s making a difference.”
—Steven C. Hayes, PhD, cofounder of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and author of Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life
“I have found New Harbinger Publications to be just the right size to offer very personal attention to its book list, and yet be able to respond rapidly to an explosive growth event—like hitting #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, being promoted by Oprah, and being featured on Good Morning America. The Untethered Soul may have soared to great heights on its way to heavenly success, but it owes its earthly roots to its publishers—New Harbinger Publications and Noetic Books.”
—Michael A. Singer, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of The Untethered Soul
“New Harbinger has been great to work with. Its staff has taken care of my book-babies with integrity and heart. I recommend New Harbinger routinely to aspiring authors. Congrats on your fortieth birthday!”
—Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Buddha’s Brain
“What’s the recipe for thriving in the challenging world of book publishing today? Start with a visionary leader, add a team with extensive publishing experience, and mix in a profound dedication to the company’s mission—and you have New Harbinger. As they celebrate their fortieth anniversary this year, I’m happy to say I’m a fan—and I wish them all the best in the years to come.”
—Alisa Schnaars, buyer at Barnes & Noble
“New Harbinger is the poster child for good-to-great in book publishing. By sticking to its knitting and gradually but determinedly building from its core publishing program of self-help and personal development, it has provided its authors and their readers with the most trusted list of books for the therapeutic community. And as the professional and lay constituencies for its titles grow, so does the faith in the New Harbinger brand and the authors whose books remain in print year after year. Congratulations to the N.H. team for focusing on the mission and executing it magnificently for forty years.”
—Cathy D. Hemming, literary agent
“Over the past ten years, I’ve been thankful that New Harbinger has helped me to deliver the important message of mindful eating to individuals beyond the walls of my office. New Harbinger books translate psychological research into useable tips to help people truly understand who they are and find doable ways to improve their lives.”
—Susan Albers, PsyD, author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food
“New Harbinger books are an essential component of the behavioral health education libraries here at Kaiser Permanente. The topics and materials are timely, coherent and well received by our members. We consider New Harbinger titles to be an essential within our holdings and as supplemental reading resources for many of our educational classes. Each year, we are delighted at the number of new titles and topics available to choose from. New Harbinger is our first go-to source in publishing!”
—Cheryl Crumpler, PhD, behavioral health education coordinator, Napa-Solano Service Area
Full Steam Ahead!
The founders’ freight-train hopping days are over, but their passion for publishing and entrepreneurial spirit live on. Today, New Harbinger is an established brand providing help to millions of people with mental health issues, as well as support for family and friends. The company that pioneered the self-help workbook continues to publish effective, evidence-based books while exploring emerging technologies to reach as many people as possible. In addition, New Harbinger has expanded its mission into several new areas of publishing, including the acquisitions of Instant Help Books, Context Press, Impact Publishers, and Non-Duality Press. Through these imprints, we continue to offer books that will inspire people to live better, more meaningful lives.
McKay, who still prefers to travel by train (except now in a passenger sleeper instead of a boxcar), remains at the helm of his beloved company, working closely with a carefully chosen team of publishing professionals. Pat Fanning has since retired but is still on the board of directors.
“New Harbinger,” says McKay, “is still dedicated to the goal of relieving human suffering. We will continue to focus on publishing important information, concentrating on editorial integrity and efficacy. As we continue to expand into new categories we will ask ourselves: Is this something people need? If the answer is, Yes, New Harbinger will be leading the way.”
When asked about changes in the publishing industry, McKay responds, “As publishing companies continue to evolve in this ever-changing digital landscape, New Harbinger remains deeply committed to the values we cherished from the beginning. We have to hold on to our core principles so that we don’t risk just chasing the money. Our bestsellers are the organic outcome of publishing good and useful books, not something we pursue directly.”
New Harbinger has evolved from a tiny start-up to a leading publisher of evidence-based psychology and self-help books. However, the mission has remained steady—to publish practical tools and resources to help people improve their lives. And while the publishing industry has evolved, New Harbinger has embraced these changes and has adopted new ways of distributing its content. In the years to come, New Harbinger will continue to offer real tools for real change.