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Major International Publisher Acquires Chelsea Green Publishing


Published April 19, 2024 at 7:10 p.m.
Updated April 24, 2024 at 10:10 a.m.

Chelsea Green books - JOHN JAMES ©️ SEVEN DAYS
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  • Chelsea Green books

Rizzoli International Publications, the New York City-based subsidiary of Italian publishing house Mondadori Group, will acquire Chelsea Green Publishing, the 40-year-old White River Junction company known for its titles on the politics and practice of sustainable living.

Mondadori announced on April 15 that Rizzoli will pay $5 million for the Vermont company and its London subsidiary, Chelsea Green Publishing UK. The deal is expected to close by June 30.

"This partnership aligns perfectly with our vision of promoting meaningful content that resonates with global audiences while addressing crucial issues related to sustainability and eco-friendly living," Rizzoli's CEO and president Stefano Peccatori said. Rizzoli International publishes illustrated books about fashion, interior design, art, architecture, photography, travel, sports and food. The company began in 1964 as a New York City bookstore, which still operates.

Chelsea Green, started in 1984 by married couple Ian and Margo Baldwin, is recognized as a preeminent publisher of books about homesteading, gardening and sustainable agriculture. It has been employee-owned since 2019. All employees — 17 in the U.S. and four in London — will continue to work for the publisher, Publishers Weekly reported.

Current and former U.S. employees who participate in the company's employee stock ownership plan will receive net profits from the sale.
  • Courtesy Of Valley News/Sarah Priestap
  • Margo Baldwin in 2014

Chelsea Green president and publisher Margo Baldwin will become publisher emeritus of Chelsea Green and will join the Rizzoli International executive team.

"I’m thrilled to have Chelsea Green secure its future and join Rizzoli and the entire esteemed Mondadori family of book publishing and bookstore companies for the next phase of development," Baldwin said in a statement announcing the sale. "This alliance will enable new growth and international expansion for our titles as well as significant new opportunities for our authors and employees."

There are no immediate plans for layoffs or relocating the company, Baldwin told “It will stay in Vermont, at least for the time being,” Baldwin said. When asked if she would retain editorial control, Baldwin said only that she “will be part of the editorial team.”

Charles Miers, publisher of all Rizzoli International imprints, said he has long admired Chelsea Green, adding that "throughout its history, it has been the tail wagging the dog, setting trends, encouraging innovation, establishing values, and publishing purposefully in areas of great importance to us all."

Chelsea Green has appeared on Publishers Weekly's fast-growing independent publisher list several times, including in 2021. It had sales of $8.1 million in 2022 and an operating income of $1.1 million, the trade magazine reported.

The company came under fire in 2021 when it published The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing the Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal. The book, by osteopath Joseph Mercola and Organic Consumers Association founder Ronnie Cummins, suggested that COVID-19 vaccines are more lethal than the virus itself and that vitamins C and D can effectively prevent and treat severe COVID-19 infections, a claim for which Mercola had previously been sanctioned by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

The book sold more than a quarter-million copies in its first five months and was one of the titles that prompted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to ask Amazon officials to change the algorithms on their site to limit the visibility of books that contain false or misleading claims about the pandemic.
In her letter to Amazon, Warren condemned the online retailer's promotion of The Truth About COVID-19 as “an unethical, unacceptable, and potentially unlawful course of action.”

Chelsea Green, Mercola and Cummins, along with anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who wrote the book’s foreword, sued Warren in federal court, claiming that her letter to Amazon constituted an attempt at censorship and a violation of the First Amendment. The lawsuit was dismissed last August.

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