"In 1984, Chuck Savitt joined forces with the proprietors of Island Press, a struggling California publishing company with a focus on land use. Aided by like-minded backers, he hoped to identify sharp thinkers on important environmental problems and publish books that made their ideas available to people who could use them.
Mr. Savitt was not looking to produce best-sellers. If a book had only a few thousand buyers, that would be fine if they were the few thousand resource managers, regulators or public officials who needed it. The venture would be supported not just by sales but also by foundation grants. It would be nonprofit.
Things went well for years. ...
Now Island Press is in trouble. Sales have stalled. Worse, it is losing some of the philanthropic support that typically provides half its budget."