On the occasion of its 20th Anniversary Edition, our Associate Publisher Jonathan Green wrote some of his memories about Pema’s classic book:
I’m one of the “old-timers” of Shambhala Publications, old enough to remember when we published this wonderful book almost 20 years ago. Pema’s earlier books, The Wisdom of No Escape and Start Where You Are, had been warmly received, and we thought this new manuscript had a lot of potential. But we had no idea it would turn out to be one of the Great Books of Shambhala, one of the most important titles we’ve had the good fortune to publish.
I do recall one wrinkle: to our distributor, Random House, the author’s preferred title seemed like a downer. Shouldn’t it be more cheerful and upbeat? We weren’t sure what we thought, and put the question to Pema, who told us in no uncertain terms that if we didn’t publish under the title “When Things Fall Apart,” the book wouldn’t be published at all. And of course she was right: the cheerfulness comes when we jump into the hard parts of our lives, not when we try to avoid them or paper them over. Her title was perfect.
And now the book is turning twenty, and Pema herself is turning eighty, and to honor both occasions we have entirely redesigned and re-typeset the book, adding a new cover and a new afterword by the author.
To be Pema’s publisher has been one of the honors of my life. My thanks go out to her and to you, her readers, from the bottom of my heart. Happy birthday When Things Fall Apart! Long live Pema Chödrön!