Friday, April 6, 2012: Dedicated Issue: Atria

Atria Books: Celebrating First 10 Years

Atria Books: The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Atria Books: The Magic by Rhonda Byrne

Atria Books: Black List by Brad Thor

Atria Books: Z-Rated by Zane

Atria Books: The Book of Burger by Rachael Ray

Editors' Note

Atria Books

On the occasion of Atria Books's 10th anniversary, Shelf Awareness celebrates how far the imprint has come and takes a look forward at the titles and programs that should keep it thriving for another decade--and more. This issue has the support of the publisher.

Click here to sign up for Atria's e-newsletter and receive e-mail updates, including new products and special offers, like those connected with Atria's 10th anniversary.

Note: all in-print figures cited in this issue represent totals for the U.S. and Canada.


Atria Books: Kill Shot by Vince Flynn

Books & Authors

Happy 10th Birthday!

Congratulations to Atria Books, the Simon & Schuster imprint that was launched in April 2002 by executive v-p and publisher Judith Curr with the aim of connecting writers and readers, meshing the best practices of traditional publishing with the latest innovations in the digital world and publishing a range of fiction and nonfiction in hardcover and paperback for readers of many tastes and interests.

"I'm very happy to have made it to 10," Curr said. "I like to say that for us, 10 is the new 30: we've achieved in 10 years what could have taken 30."

Among those achievements: Atria has had more than 200 New York Times bestsellers in a decade, and its titles are regular bestsellers abroad, too, particularly in the U.K. Atria has become a major force in African-American, New Age and Latino publishing, mysteries and thrillers as well as general commercial fiction and international fiction. Atria has created a range of imprints and partnerships, including Strebor, Beyond Words, Atria Books Español, and in the past year, Cash Money Content and Emily Bestler Books. (See the timeline below.) And the marquee authors around whom Atria began 10 years ago--Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, Vince Flynn and Zane--are still with the house and selling more than ever. In fact, in a nice kind of birthday present, each of them has major books this year:

  • Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult (Emily Bestler Books/Atria) was published in February and is currently #1 on the New York Times list.
  • Kill Shot by Vince Flynn (Emily Bestler Books/Atria), published in February, is #4 on the Times list.
  • Z Rated: Chocolate Flava III by Zane appears this August.
  • Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner is being published by Washington Square Press in paperback in May, and her The Next Best Thing is coming out from Atria in July.

Atria continues to add authors, whom it nurtures and connects with readers. (For highlights of titles from a range of those authors, see below.) Jennifer Weiner herself is a prime example of how Atria builds up authors. In 2001, her first novel, Good in Bed, had a first printing of 35,000. Now, after 10 more titles, she has more than eight million books in print and is a regular on bestseller lists. A more recent example is Kate Morton. Three years ago, the Australian author made her debut in the U.S. with The House at Riverton. Now her books have more than 1.7 million copies in print.

"Because our authors grew, we grew," Curr said. "Because they're successful, we've been successful. Each book is built on the book before it."

At the same time, particularly in the case of books by and about well-known personalities, some authors do one project with Atria, such as Unbearable Lightness, Portia de Rossi's memoir, and The Time of My Life by the late Patrick Swayze and his wife, Lisa Niemi. "On the list, we always try to have a couple of autobiographies or biographies that take you into a world you couldn't go to without that person holding your hand and guiding you," Curr commented.

S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy joined the Atria anniversary celebration, saying that Curr has done "a stupendous job of acquiring and growing authors, of taking them on when they were not bestsellers and making them bestsellers, and of finding and expanding audiences." Atria, she continued, has been "one of the most creative publishers in the digital space," and the team has "flowered in ways I couldn't have seen 10 years ago. They have created a strong, vibrant publishing house. Judith is an amazing manager and publisher."

Reidy also pointed out that Curr and Atria met an unusual challenge: in a conglomerate with seven hardcover imprints, including long-established powerhouses S&S and Scribner, "she carved out a unique identity."

Atria Books: Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Rising Stars at Atria

Highlights of the many titles being published by Atria this season:

These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen (Washington Square Press, April 10) follows the lives of three women who live together in New York City, all of whom are at crossroads. Cate is features editor at Gloss magazine whose rise through the ranks causes much controversy; Renee wants to become beauty editor on Gloss so much that she takes dangerous black market diet pills to lose weight; and Abby is despairing enough that she quit her job and left town for a while. With each other's support and encouragement, the three women aim to overcome their problems. Pekkanen is the author of The Opposite of Me and Skipping a Beat.


Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany (Washington Square Press, February 7). Eden, 30, is determined to find her father, David, who vanished from her life two decades earlier after trying to commit suicide. The search takes her to a homeless shelter whose handsome, charming director helps her in her quest--and becomes more than just a helper. Alternating between Eden's and David's points of view, Hatvany here explores mental illness and homelessness. Hatvany is the author of three previous novels, including Best Kept Secret.


Abdication by Juliet Nicolson (Atria, May 22), the author's debut novel, is set in London in 1936 and involves the romance of new King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson; a royal driver and student who feel strongly for each; a housekeeper with Nazi sympathies; and a childhood friend of Simpson whose resentments toward her are growing. The granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and daughter of Nigel Nicolson, Nicolson is the author of historical works The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm and The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age.


The Time in Between by María Dueñas, translated by Daniel Hahn (Atria, November 8, 2011) is a first novel that traces the adventurous life of Sira Quiroga from the beginning of the Spanish Civil War through World War II. Quiroga goes from being a poor seamstress in Madrid to an exclusive couturiere--who gathers information in Casablanca-era North Africa and sends it to the British Secret Service in code stitched in the hems of her haute couture dresses. The Time in Between was a #1 bestseller in Spain and sold nearly three million copies.


White Horse by Alex Adams (Emily Bestler Books/Atria, April 17, 2011) is set in a time when a virus dubbed "white horse" has accidentally been unleashed and killed 90% of the population. Zoe, who has worked at GeneTech, which she comes to believe is not as benevolent a company as she thought, begins to see a therapist and falls in love. When the virus spreads, he flees to Greece to avoid possibly infecting Zoe. Zoe discovers she is pregnant and tries to find Dr. Rose, believing that even in a dying world, love and human kindness can survive--and even flourish.


The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma (Atria, summer). New York socialite Emma Harlow agrees to marry millionaire Montgomery Gilmore--if he reproduces the invasion from outer space featured in H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds. This leads to three interconnected stories of time travel and mystery featuring cameos by Edgar Allan Poe, Captain Derek Shackleton and Charles Winslow from Palma's earlier novel The Map of Time. Appropriately, this book will include a 3D endpaper in its first printing.


Atria's Great Mystery Bus Tour

Atria's 10 Fruitful Years

Early years
With Atria's founding in April 2002, the longtime imprint Washington Square Press joins Atria and becomes the trade paperback home of such major authors as Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner and Kate Morton, joining backlist luminaries as Pearl Buck, Carlos Castaneda, Jim Harrison, Walter Mosley and Wally Lamb.

In an auspicious debut, the imprint's first title, The Right Words at the Right Time by Marlo Thomas, becomes a #1 New York Times bestseller.

Atria Books Español is founded, publishing Spanish-language books with an emphasis on quality fiction, celebrity memoirs and self help. Atria Español authors include Laura Esquivel, María Dueñas, Javier Sierra, Teresa Rodriguez, Daisy Fuentes, María Celeste Arrarás, Marcos Witt and Daisy Martinez.

Strebor Books
, founded in 1999 and still led by Zane, becomes part of Atria. The imprint is expanding this year beyond fiction to publish nonfiction, too, with works by Maxwell Billeon and RayJ. Some 25% of Atria's list, including Strebor, is devoted to the African-American publishing program.

Atria and Beyond Words create a joint venture. A star of the line is The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which has remained on bestseller lists since it was published in 2006, with more than 8 million copies in print. Byrne's latest book is The Magic, published last month, which aims to help readers make spirituality and magic part of their day-to-day lives.

Cash Money Content is launched as a partnership between record label Cash Money Records and Atria to publish original and influential voices in urban fiction, as well as life-changing books on money, motivation, health and success and memoirs by some of the label's stars.

Emily Bestler Books
is founded and headed by senior v-p and editor-in-chief Emily Bestler, who has been with the company for 16 years, had 79 New York Times bestsellers and worked with, among others, Vince Flynn, Jodi Picoult, Diane Setterfield, John Connolly, Sister Souljah, Brad Thor, Nicolle Wallace and Glen Beck. Emily Bestler Books publishes fiction and nonfiction, everything from thrillers, cookbooks and memoirs to international crime fiction and novels with literary flair.

Atria Smart Books: Enhancing the Printed Book

From using social media to publishing e-book versions of all its titles, Atria is making the most of new technology. An unusual example of this is the Atria Smart Books series, titles that use QR (quick response) codes to allow readers with smartphones to scan the code and directly jump to video that expands on the material in the printed books--a kind of enhanced p-book.

Curr said she believes "in the future of the smartphone for books, especially for instructional tomes. Readers don't want to go back and forth from book to computer and hunt on the Internet for videos."

Atria first used QR codes in 2010 in True Spirit by Jessica Watson, the Australian who at age 16 became the youngest person to sail solo, unassisted and nonstop around the world. In her memoir of the seven-month trip, QR codes link to YouTube videos that Watson took of herself on the day that she discusses in the book.

The next title to use QR codes was The Timeless Swing, an instructional book by Tom Watson that appeared a year ago. In the book, QR codes link to samples of the golfer doing what he describes in prose in the book. Curr noted that with their smartphones, "readers can take the video part of the book to the range."

In The Now Effect: How a Mindful Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life by Elisha Goldstein, published in February, QR codes link to videos of "real meditation in real time," Curr said.

Atria is refining the approach with a new title by Rachael Ray, The Book of Burger, to be published June 5. The QR codes in the book lead to seven videos that the chef made exclusively for the book. "It's the first time we'd done purpose-built video," Curr said.

QR codes and e-books generally are having a major effect on the company, Curr said. "They're training us to think about books and what we're doing in a different way as we go through the publishing process on a print and e-book version at the same time." The modern publishing company, she observed, "has to work with two opposing philosophies. 'Perfect and publish' is traditional publishing. 'Publish and perfect' is the Internet--put it out and we'll fix it later."

Atria, Curr emphasized, is not using new technology for its own sake. "We're enhancing excellent content," she said. "We guarantee a book will be as good as it says it will be."

Galley Alley: A New Community

Galley Alley began several years ago when BookExpo America limited the number of titles a publisher could give away at the show. "We didn't want to be restricted," Curr said, "so we created the galley grab." Through it, galleys for all the titles Atria wanted to distribute could be requested online by members of the trade, even by people who weren't at BEA. "The program was very successful," Curr added. "So rather than reinvent it, we improved it."

Last year, some 3,800 people, including booksellers, librarians, bloggers, reviewers and other members of the trade, participated in Galley Alley: they could choose three of the 16 offered galleys, which now also include e-galleys. Nearly 1,000 of participants wrote comments in response to the books.

The program has taken on a life far beyond its origins, becoming a year-round community. The Galley Alley newsletter talks about the featured books, includes reviews published by Galley Alley participants and offers information about the authors, their tours and giveaways. This year's Galley Alley theme emphasizes that while it's the publisher's big birthday, it's the Galley Alley community that gets the presents.

Value-Added Author Tours

Even as it takes advantage of the many opportunities new technology affords for marketing books, Atria continues to promote its books and authors in traditional ways--but with major twists that set it apart from other houses.

Consider Atria's upcoming Mystery Bus Tour, which drives the author tour to a new level. Starting next Thursday, April 12, four of Atria's mystery and thriller authors will travel on a bus for a week to 12 cities, covering 2,375 miles. The trip begins at the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City and includes, among other stops, Vermont Mystery Books in Brattleboro, Vt.; Books & Co., in Dayton, Ohio; Mystery One in Milwaukee, Wis.; Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis, Minn.; and Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kan.

Besides being the focus of events, the authors--John Connolly, author of The Infernals; William Kent Krueger, author of Northwest Angle; Liza Marklund, author of Last Will; and
 M.J. Rose, author of The Book of Lost Fragrances--will keep in touch with fans via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Curr called the bus tour "a natural return to the foundation of what we do. While we live and market in a digital age, it's important not to forget the paper book form and the need for our authors to visit booksellers and have a real conversation with their readers. It's a very traditional-based tour with a nod to social media to new technology."

Another element of the bus tour is an Atria emphasis: creating community among authors. As Curr put it: "We like to create communities for authors and their readers and for authors as well. Some of the pieces like this create something bigger than the individual pieces."

In conjunction with the tour, Atria created a sampler, The Atria International Book of Mysteries, featuring excerpts from works by 15 authors, including the four on the tour. Atria hopes to do two similar bus tours next year.


In another effort that meshes the old and new, at the end of May, Joseph Kanon is going on tour for his new book, Istanbul Passage, which appears May 29. He will do 19 events, many of them at indies, starting at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books April 21-22 and ending in the Hamptons in New York in July. To help promote the book, Kanon shot a video in Istanbul in places featured in his novel and is a presence on social media. Curr called the tour "a mixture of two worlds."

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