Open Road has a kind of "layer cake" inspiration, as CEO Jane Friedman put it, and the main components are:
• Author brands, which consists of the works of established, classic authors who have retained e-book rights, including William Styron, James Jones, Carl Hiaasen, Rebecca West and Jack Higgins. These have "gotten the most attention," Friedman said. Open Road aims to publish an author's entire catalogue, or as much of it as possible, although sometimes it starts with just one title. The company has about 80 such brands, which continue to grow.
Recent additions are eight titles by the late Leon Uris, including Exodus (with three more titles next April, completing his oeuvre), and three titles by Alice Walker, including The Color Purple (with eight more titles appearing on November 22). As with other Open Road titles, these e-books include illustrated biographies that feature many previously unpublished photographs and documents from the authors, as well as video material. In Walker's case, there is video of her discussing her books and her life; in Uris's case, video includes commentary from two of his children, Karen and Mike Uris, about their father, his motivations, his work habits and more.
• Publishing Partnerships. Open Road forms full partnerships with independent publishers, helping them enter the digital world. As part of these partnerships, Open Road creates, distributes and markets e-books. Publishers pick among the range of offerings and sometimes use all of them. The publishers are an eclectic bunch and include such companies as Kensington, Abrams, Akashic for Go the F**k to Sleep, Delphinium, Thomas Nelson, Pegasus Books and Cosmo for its first fiction e-book.
• E-riginals, e-books that Open Road is publishing for the first time. By volume, e-riginals are a small part of what the company does but they are important for the house and its identity. "We are creating new authors, and they're an important part of the new kind of publishing--publishing for 21st century--that we're doing," said Brendan Cahill, v-p and publisher. (Cahill was formerly an editor at Running Press, Grove/Atlantic and Penguin, where he was a founding editor of Gotham Books.) Open Road published three e-riginals last year, 12 this year, and plans to publish between 15 and 20 next year.
An upcoming e-riginal is One More River by Mary Glickman, appearing on November 2. Open Road also published the author's first novel, Home in the Morning, as an e-riginal last year. The book shot up the charts, hitting #30 on Amazon's bestseller list, and Open Road is currently adapting the novel into a movie produced by co-founder Jeffrey Sharp, with Jim Kohlberg writing and directing.
• The TV and film division. Several projects are in development, including a feature film based on Styron's Lie Down in Darkness and the TV series Cocoa Beach, based on the life of Open Road author Jay Barbree, who wrote Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Apollo Moon Landing with Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton and Live from Cape Canaveral.
Another innovation at Open Road is its business model. The company doesn't offer advances but shares e-book profits evenly with authors and pays them on a quarterly basis. The model creates "a richer, faster upside," Cahill said, and forges "a different kind of relationship and investment that optimizes the outcome. Each sale is worth more to the author and us." Unlike some more traditional deals, "We don't forget about the books or give up after selling a certain amount." Both new and established authors have embraced the model, he said.
Open Road sells its e-books through all the major e-tailers, including Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, Kobo, Sony and Overdrive. For print copies, the company uses Ingram's Lightning Source and the Espresso Book Machine.