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Posts Tagged ‘Collins’

Yes, Virginia, Harry Potter Changed the Publishing Industry

As sales of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS climb enough to sell out its first printing – prompting Scholastic to up the number of copies in print to 14 million – AP’s Hillel Italie asks a slew of publishing movers and shakers how Harry Potter has changed the industry. First, no book could have possibly sold this quickly. “With Potter, you have almost a perfect storm of events,” said Steve Ross, president and publisher of Collins, a division of HarperCollins. “You have changes in technology and capacity, the synergy that worked so effectively between the books and the movies, and, most importantly…they were books of startling quality.”

Doubleday Broadway president and publisher Steve Rubin credits Potter for changing the way the imprint will market the next book by Dan Brown. “I surely would hesitate before trying to do something like 12 million copies…but thanks largely to Potter, we can think about numbers we wouldn’t have imagined before.” Other ways Harry Potter changed and was changed: fewer distribution hubs causing more efficient delivery patterns; better technology enabling email use for manuscript delivery, supply and demand updates and communication; and a blockbuster mentality helped by the movies. “It wasn’t conceivable for a hardcover book to have that kind of sales, even for a book as sought after as Jaws,” said Random House spokesperson Stuart Appelbaum. “At that time, the mass market paperback was the format for multimillion sellers. But mass merchandisers weren’t selling as many books, and at the same velocity, as they do today.”

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Steve Ross’s Plans for Collins

With longtime Crown VP and publisher Steve Ross‘s move to Collins now complete, Crain’s decides to profile him and his plans for the business side of HarperCollins. There, he will be tasked with turning a sleepy nonfiction division, mainly known for wellness, business and reference books, into a powerhouse. Though already profitable and sporting current best seller THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS, the house is rarely on agents’ lists for high-profile projects or works of narrative nonfiction.

“What we liked about Steve was that he had a terrific track record, both in terms of picking best sellers and in terms of building a profitable publishing company,” says Brian Murray, president of HarperCollins worldwide. Murray adds that figuring out where Collins should be in five years will be a big part of the new publisher’s job – and all eyes will be watching to see how Ross will go about doing that.

Dangerous Book Inspires Copycats

So Conn and Hal Iggulden‘s DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS is proving to be quite the success over here after its popularity took the UK by storm last year. And because of this, reports USA TODAY’s Bob Minzesheimer, we’re about to see a slew of copycats, some of which are geared towards girls (as evident by the covers you see here.)

Collins executive Margot Schupf says similar books are “inevitable. Any success breeds copies.” It also raised the question, “What about girls?” although boys are a tougher market for publishers. Such manuals, Minzesheimer writes, strike “a chord among parents who have a nostalgic/retro longing to share with their own kids the same kind of good, old-fashioned creative play, both indoor and outdoor, that they grew up doing.

Who Spiked the Water at 1745 Broadway?

It’s been a very strange week for the world’s largest publishing company. First we had Wednesday’s surprise announcement that Crown svp and publisher Steve Ross would be moving to Collins, with Tina Constable stepping in to take his place. Now comes last night’s announcement that Daniel Menaker was jumping ship from Random House‘s eponymous imprint, though it remains to be seen if the party line that the decision was “absolutely mutual” will hold up under scrutiny.

Maybe it’s because the current edition of Publishing Revolving Door takes me on a time warp all the way back to 2003 – ancient history for some, but important history nonetheless. Menaker, after 26 years at the New Yorker, first joined Random House in 1995 and continued uninterrupted there save for a sixteen-month stint at HarperCollins, which ended in 2003. The company he returned to was not the company he left behind. They had moved to sleek new offices in an office condominium between 55th and 56th streets; Ann Godoff was gone in one of the most publicized oustings in recent memory; Little Random had been absorbed in the same umbrella containing Ballantine and its holdings; and at the center of the new-look imprint was, and still is, president and publisher Gina Centrello. Taken together, these were clear signs of the company’s increasingly commercial shift that would play out in a major way over the next four-plus years. And yet Menaker was hired to give Little Random a distinct literary bent, which he did in the form of novelists Benjamin Kunkel, Arthur Phillips, Gary Shteyngart and Jon Clinch as well as former poet laureate Billy Collins, even if said acquisitions didn’t necessarily pay off in terms of sales.

No matter how much Menaker, Centrello and the Random House brass want to downplay the bottom line, it’s difficult to play by their rules in light of the company’s most recent shakeups – not to mention their gutting of the sales force, Bertelsmann‘s attempts to patch up the mothership after getting scared straight by former minority shareholder GBL’s threats to take their holdings public (Bookspan, anyone?) and a downturn in profits. All of which has to make one wonder about the overall health of Random House – and if more “unexpected” news is just lurking around the corner.