Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who sent in suggestions for the blog, they should keep me busy for the next few months. You people are very smart and your suggestions similarly glisten with your prodigious collective wit and wisdom: the people have spoken, and the people want monkeys. Actually they want more inside dish.
A few things to keep in mind as you wonder why in the world I’m not blogging about my juicy horror stories: since this is not an anonymous blog I am thusly constrained by the fact that people know who I am, where I work, and even though I know karate I don’t really fancy people coming into my office and testing my skills in revenge for a nasty blog post. Especially since I’m lying about knowing karate.
Oh, and one more thing — there were some suggestions that I point out trends and things like that. While I’m happy to point out trends that I think are very funny, as I posted a few weeks back I don’t really follow trends that closely, nor do I think you should. If you follow the trends too closely you’re going to be behind the curve on the next trend. However, if you want to get a sense of the big new books that are going to be coming out in the future, Buzz Girl’s blog is a great resource.
And now, in keeping with the week of feedback, here’s this week’s You Tell Me.
So, not sure if you’ve noticed, but publishing has a very curious system where the name of an “imprint” is listed on the jacket of the book, usually at the base of the spine (i.e. Nan A. Talese, Crown, Dutton, etc. etc.). This is not necessarily the company that published the book, it’s called the “imprint.” It may be the publisher or it may be a division within a publisher or it may be a division within a division of a publisher. And if this sounds confusing it took me my first two years in publishing just to sort all this out.
By way of example, the US division of Random House, the biggest publisher, is divided into groups (i.e. Doubleday Broadway, Crown, Random House Children’s, Knopf, etc.). Within those groups are imprints. So, within Doubleday Broadway you have not only the Doubleday and Broadway imprints, but also Flying Dolphin, Nan A. Talese, Currency, and several others. Confused? Good!
Now, one of the main reasons these imprints exist is that each has its own unique character. For instance, the Nan A. Talese imprint (headed by none other than publishing icon and living legend Nan Talese), is known for its incredible literary merit. Harlequin has imprints divided by categories of romance. So when an agent is shopping a project, it helps to match the project with the right imprint, and similarly, booksellers can use imprints as a sort of shorthand to get a sense of which type of books will come from a publisher.
Well. Late last year the publisher Thomas Nelson dissolved its imprints!! Thomas Nelson CEO/blogger Michael Hyatt told PW, “The only ones who care about imprints are publishers, and they are expensive to maintain.” Thomas Nelson is now reorganized as an imprint-free zone.
So here’s the thing about imprints: in a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between a self-published book and a book from a commercial publisher, it seems like imprints really could function as a brand. If consumers were aware that they existed they could be a way of distinguishing between a book that carries the investment of a mainstream publisher and a self-published book. On the other hand, while it is sometimes helpful for me to know where to shop a book, maybe this is just an inside baseball thing.
You tell me — do you notice an imprint when you are buying a book? Has the name on the spine (the imprint, not the author) ever influenced one of your book buying decisions?