While the Internet offers many opportunities for community building, some publishers are taking a more in-person approach. “We are extremely aggressive about sending our authors on national tours, more so than other independent publishers,” says Temple, whose company focuses less on the Web than it does on face-to-face book signings and readings. “If you can do special, meaningful events, you can draw people in.”
Trends in 2008
As 2008 is a crucial year for presidential candidates, so it is for the publishers of their books. “Political nonfiction in any election year is always going to dominate the media and most likely the bestseller lists,” says Tart.
Schroeder of AAP predicts that not only will political figures’ own books be showing up on bookshelves, but that “in this political year, we’re going to see an awful lot of nonfiction with people trying to figure out what’s going on in the Middle East, the war, the economy.” In other words, writers will be hashing out these issues as they pertain to potential candidates. And while television is an easy political access point, “People may want to know more than that before they vote,” Schroeder says. “Everyone’s going to be out there reading about what’s going on.”
Politics aside, adult trade publishers are excited across the board for what’s yet to come in 2008. Akashic Books is continuing its city-based noir series, a “big marketing success,” according to Temple; Dutton’s Tart is embracing the “return of the big epic novel” with the sequel to Oprah Book Club pick “The Pillars of the Earth”; and Schroeder indicates that film and fiction are collaborating more than ever. “‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’—when I read that, I said, ‘There’s no way they can make a movie out of it’—and they’ve done it!” says Schroeder.
Another digital trend for 2008 and beyond is the digital repository, which, according to McCoyd, “contains digitized versions of thousands of frontlist print titles.” Random House and HarperCollins have already embraced this, allowing Web site users to perform keyword searches of the texts of thousands of books. “Right now those two databases [Random House and HarperCollins] are primarily focused on promotion of the printed editions, but Random House has announced plans to make the contents of the digital versions available for sale on a pay-perpage basis,” McCoyd explains.