New Society Publishers’ roots are firmly planted in activist soil in both the United States and Canada.
In the US, the Philadelphia office grew out of a need for pamphlets and small books on nonviolent civil disobedience training, the activist work of the Movement for a New Society during the anti-Vietnam war. From this work a book publishing company emerged in the late 1970s.
New Society Publishers’ Canadian office grew out of British Columbia's Fed-Up food co-op in the early 1970s, and later the bioregional movement in the '80s. The first New Society Publishers Canada books, The New Catalyst Bioregional Series, were based on the work of The New Catalyst, an offshoot of Fed-Up's broadsheet and price list, The Catalist, which kept co-op members in touch with each other's communities as well as providing a food price list. All of this early publishing was done in the mountains near Lillooet, BC, with a battery operated computer powered by a micro-hydro system, and phone service by radio telephone only. Chris and Judith called it their 'paleo-technic phase.'