Most businesses operate in competitive markets subject to all kinds of uncertainties, risks, and grinding challenges. Book publishing has been under particular stress due to changes in technology and consumer habits.
In this case the top managers appear to be the owners. Changing to a a non-profit corporate structure makes lots of sense for them personally. As a for-profit company, any injection of capital into the enterprise must use after-tax money. Changing to a non-profit means the company can now reverse the flow between investors/donors, the company, and the government. Since donations are tax-deductible, the effect of going non-profit is to take tax dollars and cycle them through your enterprise to pay salaries, partners, and suppliers. Taxes that a donor would have paid are now available to the firm and thus to its payees!
The managers no longer need to focus on producing and harvesting more value than the firm consumes, but instead can focus on just a handful of relationships involving individual donors and funding from other non-profits and government agencies. Trying to grind out net profit and pay your taxes is not easy. It’s conceivable that the non-profit form will provide more secure income to the managers while allowing them to spend their time more pleasurably.
But if it results in more freely shared pieces like decorative gourd season, I’d say they are producing plenty of external benefit.