Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Story Behind Inner City Books

By Daryl Sharp, Publisher and General Editor

In 1980 I was 44 years old. I had returned to Toronto two years earlier from the Jung Institute in Zurich and I had a thriving practice. I had so much energy I thought I might explode. Theoretically it's possible. E = m x c2 (squared). If you have no place to put your energy it could build up inside until poof! - a burst of flame and at the speed of light you're toast.

For some time I had been trying to interest publishers in my Diploma thesis on Franz Kafka (The Secret Raven: Conflict and Transformation). I had high hopes. After all, the 100th anniversary of his birth was coming up, and then the 60th anniversary of his death. But there were no takers. I was frustrated. My friends and colleagues Marion Woodman and Fraser Boa, who had trained with me in Zurich, finally said, "Why not do it yourself, you have the tools."

It was true. I had worked for many publishers before going to pieces and becoming an analyst. I knew what was involved in making and marketing a book. Yes, I thought, why not! Only I didn't fancy being a one-shot vanity press, so I decided to invite manuscripts from other analysts. Marion immediately offered her Diploma thesis on obesity and anorexia, The Owl Was a Baker's Daughter.

Then I called Marie-Louise von Franz at her home in Kusnacht, at 9 a.m., just when I knew she'd be coming in from the garden. I told her I was starting a publishing house and was interested in some of her unpublished seminars, which I just happened to have in mimeographed form, namely: Redemption Motifs in Fairy Tales, On Divination and Synchronicity and Alchemy: An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology.

Dr. von Franz was very pleased. What is more, she graciously agreed to be Honorary Patron of Inner City Books. So, I now had a place to put my energy, and other analysts responded. Close on the heels of Woodman and von Franz came Sylvia Brinton Perera (Descent to the Goddess), James A. Hall (Jungian Dream Interpretation), Nathan Schwartz-Salant (Narcissism and Character Transformation) and Edward F. Edinger (The Creation of Consciousness). These early gems and later books by the same authors continue to be the backbone of Inner City Books.

In the beginning I did not expect publishing to be a profitable enterprise. I thought it would have to be subsidized by my practice. As it happened, however, there was a ready and eager market. Sales flourished and readers clamored for more. Never mind the phenomenal success of Marion Woodman's several books. I did not foresee that offers would fall from the sky from publishers in other countries.

Every morning at 8 a.m. I walk down to the post office to collect what's in the box. Typologically I think of myself as an introvert. I relate to the world subjectively, in terms of what's going on in me. I am quite happy working alone in a corner. But my extraverted shadow survives on what's in the box.

Inner City Books might have become faceless. It has not. We are three people: myself, Senior Editor Vicki Cowan and Editorial Assistant Scott Lewis. Everything is contained in my Victorian house in downtown Toronto: analytic practice on the first floor, publishing offices on the second, bedroooms on the third, books in the basement and garage. We have no plans to expand our base of operations.

We now have more than 100 authoritative works on many themes, all promoting the understanding and practical application of Jungian psychology. The only complaint we regularly hear is that we publish books faster than people can read them.

Well, we tried to slow down. In 1997 we published only two titles, instead of the previous four or five a year. But in 1998 we were back to four, including the wonderful biography of Jung by Marie-Louise von Franz, long out of print. In 1999, we published five books, including a Cumulative Index of the first 80 titles.... so it looks like we will continue to do what is right in front of us - and let our readers catch up when they can.

The loss in 1998 of both Dr. von Franz and Dr. Edinger was a severe blow to us personally as well as to the world-wide Jungian community. We have been consoled by the fact that new, unpublished manuscripts by them have since become available. We feel fortunate indeed to be in a position to keep their spirits and their work alive, to the benefit of everyone who seeks to become psychologically conscious.