JEFFERSON — After working with thousands of authors, printing volumes of books and working 40 years in the publishing business, the owner and founder of McFarland & Company Publishers attributes the longevity of his business to its employees.

“When I was growing up, my parents told me that my sister was real artistic, and that I was an intellectual, but really, my talents lay elsewhere,” said Robert McFarland Franklin. “I’m a good people person — I love my employees.”

Authors flew to Ashe County from as far as California and New York to celebrate 40 years of McFarland Publishing, and locals stopped by to see what all the excitement was about along N.C. 88 the afternoon of Friday, June 14. Visitors enjoyed refreshments, facility tours and a specialized cake commemorating the company’s 40th anniversary.

“This is a people achievement,” Franklin said. “Not really a personal achievement — not really words on paper, but people on the payroll.”

McFarland Publishing edits, produces, prints and sells a wide range of academic books in-house, with a niche for circulating writings on niche topics. The company of 50 employees publishes roughly 375 titles per year, and since 1979 has seen some 6,000 unique titles printed at its Jefferson headquarters.

The company has changed with the times over its four decades, making slight alterations in its business model to meet newfound demand for e-books and online retailers like Amazon, according to Franklin. The small measures McFarland Publishing made have helped to stabilize the company for the years to come, Franklin said.

“I’d like 40 more years,” Franklin said. “I just feel exhilarated.”

Despite the longevity of the business he founded and its ability to adapt with the times, Franklin said his success is not because publishing is his sharpest skillset.

“I think publishing is my violon d’Ingres — my second-best talent,” Franklin said.

So then, what does Franklin consider his top talent?

“Loving people, and finding in them all their power and strength, and ignoring the perhaps less-productive aspects of every human being, including myself,” Franklin said. “Knowing myself, I have more sympathy for other people.”

To browse the McFarland & Company Publishers catalogue, go online to

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