Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016: Dedicated Issue: Hachette Book Group 10th Anniversary


Hachette Book Group Tenth Anniversary

Editors' Note

Bookselling News

HBG: Ten Years of Bestsellers--and Growth

 

In the 10 years since Hachette Livre bought Time Warner Book Group and created Hachette Book Group, the company has grown and changed dramatically--while keeping true to principles that attracted Hachette Livre's chairman and CEO Arnaud Nourry in the first place.

"We've always been a successful publisher known for our marketing, for our bestsellers and for our author development," explained CEO Michael Pietsch. Helped by having a core group of executives in place since before the purchase--besides Pietsch, they include the publishers Jamie Raab at Grand Central, Megan Tingley at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Reagan Arthur at Little, Brown and Rolf Zettersten at Hachette Nashville; general counsel Carol Ross; sales director Chris Murphy; HR senior v-p Andrea Weinzimer; and communications senior v-p Sophie Cottrell--the company has continued to excel in those areas while growing significantly. "We've always wanted more scale in the U.S.," Pietsch noted.

Michael Pietsch

Consider these accomplishments in the past decade:

Hachette Book Group has grown internally by adding a range of new imprints and divisions, including Grand Central Life & Style, Mulholland Books, Forever Yours, Yen, Orbit, Hachette Books and Hachette Canada. Altogether, there are a dozen imprints that didn't exist 10 years ago.

The company has grown through acquisitions, particularly the purchases of Hyperion's adult trade list, Black Dog & Leventhal and, most recently, the publishing operations of Perseus Books Group, an acquisition that Pietsch called "foundational."

HBG has become a much more international publisher, partnering closely with Hachette Livre and Hachette U.K. on launching major authors and on distribution of its books in print and digital formats worldwide. With its Hachette colleagues abroad, it has published J.K. Rowling, Keith Richards, Donna Tartt, Nicholas Sparks, Stephenie Meyer, Michael Connelly, Malala Yousafzai, and more. "Our ability to market books internationally is something we're really proud of," Pietsch said. "And it's exciting to see how effectively our editors around the world have connected with each other."

The company has increased its distribution business to the point that distribution billings are as large as its publishing revenues--so large that in volume Hachette is now "the biggest distributor of third-party publishers in the U.S.," Pietsch said. During the last decade Chronicle Books, Disney, Marvel and Octopus have come to HBG for distribution. It also distributes Abrams, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Peterson's and Phaidon, among others. The company has expanded its Lebanon, Ind., warehouse three times in the past five years, to 1.8 million square feet. "We saw this as a big opportunity given that we have a very highly developed supply chain and distribution facility," Pietsch said. "Our client publishers get the benefit of our size, systems and prices, and we've been able to help them achieve what they want to achieve."

Hachette Book Group continues to adopt and use new online marketing possibilities and techniques, things "we couldn't have dreamed of five years ago," Pietsch said. These allow the company better than ever "to target and meet a particular reader with a particular book."


The company has continued to partner with authors--and in ever-new ways--and has increased the sales of its biggest authors, such as James Patterson, as well as developing new authors.

HBG has published across a wider range of subject areas, including science fiction, manga, and licensed publishing while significantly expanding its publishing in food and cookbooks, health, and illustrated and gift books "with new voices, major blockbusters, and everything in between," Pietsch said.

And through this growth, Hachette has continued to have a low title count and the highest rate of bestsellers per title published of any Big Five publisher, as Pietsch happily pointed out. And even after adding Perseus, the company will still put out fewer titles than the other major publishers in the U.S., bringing focus and excitement to every publication.


Hachette Books: Bookshots by James Patterson

Hachette Authors Send Greetings and Thanks

"I came to Hachette Book Group when our industry was undergoing changes at the speed of light. These new challenges could have been enervating, but HBG was energized by them, regarding them as opportunities to grow their market as well as their authors. I'm pleased to be among them. Happy 10th Birthday, HBG! --Sandra Brown

Sherman Alexie

"Little, Brown is filled with smart and funny people. I spend so much time laughing that I forget it's actually my job!" --Sherman Alexie

"HBG took a chance on me when no one else would. It's been a privilege to work with a team that brings such passion to their creation and packaging. HBG understands how to bring together art and business in a way that is sensitive, timely, and intelligent." --Brent Weeks

"In 2010, The Lifeboat and I were lucky enough to land at Hachette Book Group. I found myself part of a wonderful family of smart and talented people who not only care deeply about books, but who also help writers reach their full potential. Happy anniversary, HBG, from one of your many devoted fans." --Charlotte Rogan

"What separates Hachette from other publishers can't be distilled into a few lines, but I at least have the keyword: enthusiasm. The excitement for publishing starts in the U.S. with the incomparable Michael Pietsch, and permeates every facet of the company. From France to London to an extraordinary team at the distribution center in Lebanon, Ind., I've experienced the beautiful shared enthusiasm across HBG, and it is that genuine passion for books that makes it a truly special environment for a writer." --Michael Koryta

"Hachette evokes ardent, adoring salutes; really there should be a parade. Happy anniversary to the mighty, ingenious, nimble dream team!" --Stacy Schiff

"I've always been well published, but it all rose to a new level when I came to Hachette six or seven years ago--the enthusiasm & professionalism & skill in editing & publishing my novels has been extraordinary and has given me more inspiration, more time--more books--feels like more life." --Kim Stanley Robinson

David Baldacci

"Having worked with HBG long before they were HBG I can say unequivocally that it's the people that count and HBG has the best in the business. I could not imagine working with a finer, more dedicated group whose sole mission is to help me and all the other HBG writers deliver the best possible stories in the best possible way to readers everywhere. Here's to your first 10 years and best wishes for many, many more." --David Baldacci

"Your publisher can feel a little bit like your family. For better and, yes, for worse. In my case, it's very much the former. I can't count the number of times I've felt how fortunate I am to be at Little, Brown--a family every bit as supportive and loving--yes, loving--as I ever could have hoped for. And it isn't just the focused list, the passionate know-how, the meaningful love of books. It's also the commitment. I have only ever felt how seriously the folks at Little, Brown take their relationship with their authors. Family, indeed. Of the very happiest kind." --Ayad Akhtar

"I love Hachette, they feel like friends." --Kate Atkinson

Elin Hilderbrand

"In September of 2006, my life changed in a manner I can only compare to Cinderella finding out that the glass slipper fit. I became a Hachette author. I have been impressed and inspired by the brilliant minds of the people who work there--but more importantly, I have felt celebrated, lifted up and loved by the hearts of the people who work there." --Elin Hilderbrand

"I consider myself truly fortunate to have worked with a fantastic group of editors, publicists, marketers and artists at Hachette. They are consummate professionals dedicated to the proposition that books have a fundamentally important role in the world. More importantly, they are genuinely great people and I'm proud to know them. Happy 10th anniversary." --Kevin Powers

Michael Connelly

"It's been a great pleasure for me to be with the Hachette Book Group since its inception. No writer could ask for better support than I receive through the many channels of HBG. All an author could ever want is to be part of a publishing enterprise that is innovative and relentless and without borders. I know that I have that with HBG and that each time I complete a novel I am handing it off to the best in the business." --Michael Connelly

"I've been at HBG so long, when they started, I used to have hair. Look it up. It's true. So thank you, HBG, for giving me a line of author photos where I can slowly track the decline of my hairline. Seriously, love you all very much. And honored to be here to blow out the candles with you." --Brad Meltzer

"Writing my first book was the scariest, hardest thing I've ever done, but being clasped to the warm bosom of Hachette Book Group made it funny and fun pretty much every step of the way (even the step where I was hyperventilating in a haunted cabin trying to crank out the last 20,000 words). I'm so lucky to have fallen in with a group of colleagues who get me, treat me like a friend, and encourage me to take chances." --Lindy West

"I was incredibly lucky that my book Disrupted landed at Hachette Book Group. Everyone I worked with was terrific. They really cared about the book and understood what I was trying to accomplish." --Dan Lyons


Hachette Book Group: Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda

HBG: Ready for the Next 10 Years

Hachette has continued to "publish at the top of the marketplace," as CEO Michael Pietsch put it, citing such authors as Nicholas Sparks, David Baldacci, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Connelly, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child and Sherman Alexie. All these authors, whose sales have grown steadily, were with the company 10 years ago.

James Patterson

The most striking example of a major longtime Hachette author is James Patterson, "the bestselling writer in America," Pietsch said. Besides publishing an ever-increasing number of Patterson's titles, Hachette Book Group has helped the author develop new endeavors and new kinds of books, including jimmy patterson, his children's book line, and the soon-to-be-launched BookShots (featuring short novels selling for $5), which Pietsch described as "an entirely new kind of book designed for readers' crowded lives today."

At the same time, Hachette has been adding and developing new and bestselling authors such as Elin Hilderbrand, Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop Press imprint, Tina Fey and Brent Weeks; in manga, Sword Art Online and Black Butler; in kids' books, Jerry Pinkney; and, in romance, Jodi Ellen Malpas.

Among the many ways Hachette acts as a partner with authors is through constant communication. It's easy for publishers to forget that authors often go for long periods of silence, even while the publisher is working hard for them, Pietsch said. "For authors to feel like partners, you have to tell them every minute what you're doing in all its complexity and assume that they want to know. It's better to give them too much information than wait for them to come ask a question. So we've really worked hard throughout the whole company to make sure that everyone knows it's our responsibility to make the author part of the whole publishing conversation, not just the editorial conversation."

For now, Hachette is bringing Perseus's publishing operations aboard, adding some 500 titles a year to the 1,200 it has been publishing and boosting revenues 15%. The imprints--which include PublicAffairs, Basic Books, Da Capo, Avalon and Running Press--each have "a very particular domain expertise, passion, knowledge and an ability to shape projects that suit the market they know very well," Pietsch said. "That kind of directed publishing is something that we admire and broadens our reach."

While Little, Brown and Grand Central have "wonderful" nonfiction programs, Pietsch said, it was a major benefit to Hachette to acquire "a company whose DNA is nonfiction" and is focused on backlist. The resulting steady financial profile--partly because it relies less on e-books and more than 60% of sales are backlist--makes Hachette "less susceptible to the shocks of frontlist ups and downs."

The companies' staffs are already getting to know each other, and "it feels like we're meeting cousins we hadn't known we had," Pietsch said. "It's been very familial, no shock to the system."

For the future, Hachette wants to retain its quality of publishing and excellence of marketing, and to come up with new ideas and new partnerships with authors and seize every new marketing opportunity. And the company wants to continue growing. "We want to be bigger," Pietsch said, "and have as many nonfiction bestsellers and long sellers as we have in fiction."


Grand Central: A Happy Rebranding

When Hachette Livre bought Time Warner Book Group 10 years ago, what was then called Warner Books had the biggest challenge of the new Hachette Book Group: unlike other imprints, it had to come up with a new name. "We'd always had the Warner Books name," Jamie Raab remembered. "It stood for something: it stood for an extremely commercial publisher with a strong mass market tradition. It was daunting suddenly to have a publishing program without a name."

Quickly, however, Raab took the situation as an opportunity not just to rename the imprint but to rebrand it, particularly to emphasize that the imprint aimed to expand beyond its traditional mass market publishing, an area that was already beginning to lose its power in the marketplace. Plus, Raab added with some amusement, she was very happy to change the colophon, "the big, unattractive W."

Jamie Raab (photo: Herman Estevez)

A branding company and focus groups yielded nothing that caught Hachette's imagination. At the time, Hachette was moving to offices near Grand Central Terminal--and suddenly the name of what Raab called "one of the most beautiful buildings in New York City" beckoned. Grand Central, she continued, is "a historic phrase," and both words have apt meanings. "Grand is big, and our program has always been broad based." As for Central, "I've never forgotten that America is not just the West Coast and the East Coast, but there's a whole world in the center." Grand Central also got a new colophon--part of an emphasis on the careful design of all Grand Central's books.

Grand Central has since expanded both internally and by creating imprints. Soon after the purchase, it added Twelve, "our upmarket fiction and nonfiction line that gave us a bit more range in a focused way," Raab said. Twelve has published everything from Ted Kennedy's autobiography to Dana Perino's memoir, And the Good News Is... Maureen Dowd, Condoleezza Rice and Al Franken will be on upcoming lists.

The company created Grand Central Life & Style, which added cookbooks to the life and style books Warner Books had done. Now Grand Central has become "an incredibly strong cookbook publisher in a short amount of time," Raab noted. Publishing Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow, the imprint has done diet books, exercise and is doing more self-help and more mind/body/spirit titles, all of which give Grand Central a greater range.

Grand Central also expanded its Forever romance line and added Forever Yours, a digital-only romance program. It ended the Business Plus name, which had focused on how-to business titles, so that Grand Central could do "big idea" business titles such as How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg and Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock.

"It's been 10 years of enormous changes," Raab said. "We turned a challenge into an opportunity, and it's been fun!"

Grand Central's evolution over the past decade will be illustrated in real life at an exhibition that runs through May at the Type Directors Club in New York City. The show highlights "how much the look of some of our books have changed," Raab said, "and the thought process that went into the transformation."


Hachette's +10% Promotion on Select Titles for Booksellers

Hachette Books Group is helping booksellers celebrate its 10th anniversary with a +10% retail discount offer on a great selection of some of the most popular titles published during the past decade.

The promotion is valid from May 1 to June 30, applies to minimum orders of five copies of 10 titles, up to 500 copies maximum. Booksellers should use the promo code HBGI10 when ordering and, for an additional $50 credit, send their sales rep a photo of their "HBG Is 10" display by September 15.

Some of the selected promotional titles include The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer, God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, Life by Keith Richards and The Shack by Wm. Paul Young.


Booksellers to Hachette: 'Happy Birthday!'

Mitchell Kaplan

"All of us at Books & Books wish the Hachette Book Group a very happy birthday! With its remarkable taste, incredible support for stores like ours, and unwavering commitment to a diverse publishing program, HBG gives readers and bookstores everywhere  a very bright future during its next ten years and beyond!" --Mitchell Kaplan, Books & Books

"Thank you HBG for your commitment and contribution to the world of books,
Thank you HBG for your stellar list of authors,
Thank you HBG for your wonderful sales team and responsive customer care,
Thank you HBG for discovering and nurturing debut authors,
Thank you HBG for understanding the importance of indie bookstores & for supporting us throughout the years.
Thank you HBG for James Patterson!
Congratulations on 10 years and looking forward to many more!" --Adrian Newell, Warwick's, La Jolla, Calif.
 
Suzanna Hermans

"How quickly 10 years goes! Congratulations, HBG, and thank you for being such a great partner to indies. I can't wait to see what you do in the next 10!" --Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books, Rhinebeck, N.Y.

"Congratulations to everyone in the Hachette Book Group on 10 exciting years. At Book Passage, we consider HBG a treasured partner. Together we've launched new authors and produced events with literary geniuses, historians, rock stars, enchanting children's authors and world leaders. The HBG people, from the editors who acquire outstanding books, to the committed sales, publicity and marketing teams, make this publishing house unique. Our staff gets excited when a trusted HBG friend introduces us to a new author. May the future be filled with HBG books that make us laugh, cry, question the known, and explore the unknown." --Elaine Petrocelli, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.

Sarah Bagby

"Working with Hachette Book Group over 10 has provided my store with a wealth of opportunity to sell thrilling books by the inimitable George Pelecanos and Michael Connelly. Keith Richard's expansive autobiography Life told the story a generation's icon, and Sally Mann's recent Hold Still is one of the most thoughtful and well-written memoirs of the life of an American artist from the south. We've been privileged to sell provocative novels readers want to discuss, such as Room and The Snow Child. We sell classic authors such as Luis Alberto Urrea and Sherman Alexie. No store would be complete without Jewell Parker Rhodes' profound Ninth Ward. And we connect with so many fans of Nicholas Sparks, Stephen Colbert. We are also extremely thankful to James Patterson for his generous support of our store and industry. In short, having a publisher partner providing a rich cultural selection of books to sell to all ages is a godsend to a store like Watermark Books & Café." --Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, Kan.


"Congratulations, HBG! I am grateful for 10 years of bestsellers (and it feels like Tina Fey alone has been on our list almost that long!), of literary longshots that somehow ('somehow' being quite obviously the phenomenal team at HBG) fairly often become bestsellers and prizewinners. I am grateful for 10 years of friendship with said phenomenal team. I am grateful for Malcolm Gladwell and James Patterson, Malala and Colbert, Donna Tartt and Kate Atkinson, Sherman Alexie and David Foster Wallace... oh wait--that's a list that never ends! I am grateful for CEO Michael Pietsch and his insightful, passionate and public advocacy for the book industry overall. HBG, I wish you all the success that you deserve for many more years to come." --Sara Hinckley, Hudson Book Group, Marietta, Ga.

"It has come to my attention that Hachette Book Group is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and I wanted to offer Readerlink's sincerest congratulations. Hachette Book Group has continuously been one of Readerlink's premier partners. Its business approach can be effectively summed up using four C's: Creativity, Collaboration, Character and Courage. [...] Keep the champagne on ice as I'm certain there will be more good things for HBG to come." --Dennis E. Abboud, Readerlink Distribution Services, Oak Brook, Ill.

"Cheers to Hachette for 10 years of outstanding publishing and industry leadership!" --Your friends at Ingram Content Group


Little, Brown: Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Land of Stories An Author's Odyssey by Chris Colfer

Grand Central Publishing: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Redhook: The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

Hachette Books: Shrill by Lindy West

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