After nearly 100 years in Chicago’s Wrigleyville/Lakeview neighborhood, Catholic publishing house Loyola Press has relocated its corporate headquarters. The press is now located at 8770 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. In an area known as O’Hare Pass due to its proximity to the airport. Loyola president and publisher Jollyn Cicciarelli says the move has precipitated the pandemic, and that the new space will better support the company’s need for a modern recording studio as well as an environment conducive to cross-departmental collaboration and interaction.
After the onset of Covid-19, demand for Loyola’s digital licenses and sales of audio and e-books skyrocketed, according to Cicciarelli. “Customer behavior changed overnight,” she says. “We were in the middle of developing multimedia and auxiliary materials to fit our textbooks. The old building doesn’t have the same infrastructure – we could hear the L train. The pandemic was a clear sign that we had to look for a new home.”
Loyola will continue to publish the curriculum and associated multimedia products, including interactive and self-directed digital learning experiences and trade books in e-books and audio formats. The press also recently launched a podcast, Carpool Catechesis, and developed a video game, Wanderlight: A Pilgrim’s Adventure.
Loyola’s acquisition focus includes materials on social-emotional learning (SEL) for children as well as adult mental health issues, and books on early childhood and family engagement. Cicciarelli wants to discover “new authors, new formats, new categories, and continue to grow in the digital space.”
Tom Fuso The Homeboy Way: A Radical Approach to Business and Life, Due to be published on February 22, it marks a new direction for Loyola to take, Chicarelli adds. The book presents business and leadership practices as well as “55 Rules to Break”. Foso is the CEO of Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention, rehabilitation and return program founded by Jesuit priest Greg Boyle. We want to satisfy people’s pain points, but we take negative energy and turn it into positive. We don’t focus on the problem or what divides us, but we look for the solution, creating workable solutions through the lens of love.”
Loyola has adopted a blended business model, and has spent a year developing the schedule: Employees will work from home three days a week and come into the new office two days—a day with the entire department (for example, the editorial department), and a second day with the department they work with more than Others (ie, Curriculum Product Development and Curriculum Marketing Department). While the hybrid model is in place to help limit the spread of Covid-19, it will stay in place “as we hope, my goodness, out of the pandemic,” says Chicarelli.
Because the new office is close to the airport, hosting guests and authors for events and other personal gatherings will be easier, once it is safe to do so, adds Cicciarelli. Meanwhile, “we found that virtual book versions can actually reach more people than people,” she says. During the launch of Mark Shriver’s children’s book 10 hidden heroes“It popped in,” explains Chicarelli, rapper Usher. “During the release of the Loyola Model Book, no usher had appeared. It was a real high for us.”
Looking at religious publishing as a whole, Chicarelli says the trend is a move toward technology. Religion publishers, schools, and parishes were late adopters of religion [of e-books and audio]. Covid pushed that over the edge,” she says. “It won’t go away. People want their content in every way.”
For both Loyola’s new and future location, “it feels like a fresh start,” Cicciarelli notes.