Today is publication date in the U.S. for the first two titles in the new BookShots line, a partnership of author James Patterson and his longtime publisher, Little, Brown. At a press conference yesterday, Patterson called the imprint "a very unusual and rare innovation in publishing--an evolution and to some extent a revolution."
The books are fewer than 150 pages long, cost less than $5, and are "fast paced and all thriller, no filler," Patterson said. They're short enough, he continued, to be read in one sitting, and each chapter, usually no more than a few pages long, "has to move plot and characterization forward." They're designed for the many people today who don't have enough time to read and are put off by the idea of reading a 450-page book. "The time is exactly right for this," he emphasized, adding, "We need long form books for sure. This hopefully complements them."
|Press conference: NPR's Michele Norris and James Patterson
Patterson, who has generously supported literacy, bookstores and school libraries, said BookShots titles will get more people into the habit of reading, draw more people into bookstores and, because reading is so beneficial to people, improve people's lives.
The first two BookShots titles are Cross Kill by Patterson and Zoo 2 by Patterson with Max DiLallo. Each has a first printing of 500,000 and will be offered mainly in bookstores and via Amazon. But just as Patterson wants to expand readership by publishing exciting titles that are quick reads, he also wants to expand distribution. He fondly recalled the many mass market titles that used to be sold in drug stores, and praised Sweden for having books available in so many nontraditional outlets, including gas stations.
Patterson said that booksellers' reactions have been positive. When "one big supplier" was told about BookShots during the holiday season, she responded, Patterson said, "You've just given me my Christmas present." Another "head buyer" echoed this, saying, "You just gave me my birthday present." For its part, Amazon said, "Think bigger."
Next month, BookShots will publish four titles in the U.S., including two romance titles, part of the BookShots Flames romance series that will consist of two titles every other month. BookShots will also publish mysteries and science fiction. In September, it's publishing a nonfiction title, Trump vs. Clinton: In Their Own Words, which collects the likely presidential candidates' opinions on a range of subjects. Patterson commented: "If it was a $27 book, I don't know if I would want it. At $4.99, I do."
Through the rest of the year, BookShots will publish two to four titles a month. There's no lack of material: Patterson said yesterday that he has 117 manuscripts "finished or almost finished," some of which he's written. For more than 80 books, he wrote outlines of 20-30 pages for others to complete.
Asked how he would measure success for BookShots, Patterson said, "If it's making money instead of losing money." He's decidedly optimistic, adding, "We'll do well with it." --John Mutter