The Quirky Side of Publishing
● How do you remain competitive in this environment?
Borgenicht: … After the first couple of years, we made a very conscious shift in the type of titles we published. The first couple of seasons of Quirk Books were much heavier on the impulse [books] than the last several seasons. We had great success with [impulse] titles that were very front-list driven, but it was a short life cycle. … Those kinds of books don’t backlist. The books that we’ve seen really backlist, like “The Baby Owner’s Manual,” are books that we’ve consistently sold like 50,000 or 60,000 [copies] per year. … [Therefore,] we’ve very consciously shifted the balance of Quirk from 50-percent impulse and 50-percent irreverent reference to more in favor of the irreverent reference that we create so well. … We also made a conscious shift to find the high end of quirky. Most of the books in our first few years were under $20, and, over the past couple years, we’ve found ways to publish Quirk books at $25 and $40 and higher price points, which obviously helps a lot. We don’t sell 150,000 copies of those titles, but selling 40,000 [copies] of a $40 book is just as good.
● How has rights and licensing played a role in your business?
Borgenicht: … One of the things that makes Quirk unique is that we originate or develop the concept for 75 percent to 80 percent of the books we publish. … [So,] we can control most of the rights and the subrights and most of the merchandising rights, and we’ve really made that a major part of our business already. … We acquire books from agents and packagers as well, but because most [of our books] are conceived and developed in-house, that gives Quirk a unique opportunity to maximize subrights and licensing and other channels of revenue from the content we create. And that does position us to be an entertainment company more than a lot of publishers have an opportunity to be. … We’re not a publisher that just does a land-grab for rights, but we very consciously maximize and look to sell our books in all the different ways you can sell books, at all different kinds of retailers and to all different kinds of licensers, in all different kinds of mediums. …