Exclusive Interview: Jane Friedman, President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers, Offers Insights On Motivation, Mentors and More
… We would offer Julia for free as a demonstrator and then we would get the newspapers in town to do features on her, and we would get local television and radio coverage because so many people would come out to see her. … And we sold almost 1,000 books that [first morning of the author tour]. … So that was the birth of the multi-pronged multimedia tour.
EXTRA: You started Publishing Plus, which is the theory that everything you do at HarperCollins has to be publishing plus more, to incorporate multimedia platforms, technologies and opportunities. You held a brainstorming session with 20 of the leaders of HarperCollins from around the world. What came out of that session and how you are using it today?
FRIEDMAN: We came up with four buckets for potential growth. Each one of them has been enacted, and Publishing Plus has become part of the core fabric of Harper. This year alone we had a Library Plus program, [and] a Backlist Plus program that the children’s division did last year with five of their major brands.
But the four buckets that came out of the big Publishing Plus enclave was a Branding Bucket, and we immediately used Harper Perennial as the global example. Another one was called Publishing Services, which basically was reaching out into the community and creating books that weren’t necessarily books that had been thought of before. For example, we [published] a book [in conjunction] with the Rockets [sold] at Radio City Music Hall. We [published] a book [sold] at Sax Fifth Avenue, a children’s book called “Cashmere,” which was about a goat and cashmere, and it worked very much with Sax Fifth Avenue’s cashmere promotion. So it’s very creative thinking outside the box.
Another bucket was Collins. When Rupert Murdock bought William Collins in about 1989, his intention was to have Collins be a reference brand and Harper would remain the trade brand. I thought that Collins had not really been developed in America, and so the notion was to brand Collins in America, which we have done very well and it’s very much a global brand. ... And the fourth bucket was a big bucket called B-to-C, and that was direct to consumer and that is where all of our digital work has now fallen. So Publishing Plus is something we think about all the time, its just part of our DNA.