SophiaOmni was founded in 1996 by Long Island philosophers. It began as the Sophia Project, a web-based resource to provide college students with the tools they needed to begin formal study of the fields of philosophy, religion, and ethics. At first, this site was conceived of as a local affair, aimed primarily at students in the New York/Long Island region. We quickly realized, however, that we were getting hits from ordinary people around the world who were sincerely interested in expanding their own human wisdom and who actually enjoyed struggling with difficult ideas developed by some of the greatest thinkers mankind has ever produced.
Throughout the years, we kept receiving requests from folks in the Australian Outback, from rural communities in Africa and Asia, and Latin America, as well as from University professors around the world to use our on-line materials for personal and educational purposes. Naturally, we were delighted to assist these individuals any way we could.
At the same time, we began producing numerous on-line courses, study editions of great texts, and original works in the fields of philosophy, religion, and ethics. Our goal was always to take the complex ideas of great thinkers from the past and make them more readily accessible to the average person, whether they have formal higher education or not. And, in this effort, we think we were highly successful.
Then, in 2009 we decided that it was time to take our efforts to the next level by starting an independent publishing company that could produce the kinds of works that larger publishing companies didn’t seem all that interested in anymore—works that had the possibility of adding to the sum total of human wisdom rather than diminishing it. We decided that we would publish works by individuals who had something significant, provocative, or radical to say about the human condition with little or no regard for how “marketable” these works were. In this, we were aided by the booming POD (Publishing on Demand) industry, which meant that we would have little need to concern ourselves with significant overhead expenses or any minimum number of books to sell to ensure profitability.
In fact, we decided we wouldn’t be concerned with profits at all. The model we set up when we devised SophiaOmni was based upon classic distributivist principles. Half of all the revenue generated by books sales goes to authors of the works we produce; the remaining revenue covers business-related expenses. The staff at SophiaOmni all work without compensation (we have day jobs that pay the bills) and are assisted by a crack team of student volunteers, sympathetic colleagues, and an assorted array of computer geeks who help us when we get in over our heads with technology.
We are the first to realize that following distributivist economic principles will never make us rich. But we don't really care about such trivial concerns. What we do care deeply about is producing high quality works by thoughtful individuals at reasonable prices.
If you are the kind of person who thinks that principles like these are worth supporting, I warmly invite you to browse our collection of books and see if anything strikes your fancy.
And, above all, enjoy your pursuit of wisdom!
Michael S. Russo, Ph.D.