Kensington Publishing added two subgenres to its mystery line this fall, expanding both its cozies and historical mysteries. “Cozies are like comfort food,” said Karen Auerbach, director of publicity, explaining the company’s reasons. “Going back to cozies is going back to something you know.”
Though it long since moved beyond its 1974 historical fiction beginnings, with the acquisition of nonfiction publisher Citadel in 2000, the company never abandoned its fiction roots. “We’re like Baskin-Robbins 31 flavors,” said Auerbach. “We cater to every [fiction] reader, from street lit to contemporary fiction.”
In the last decade or so, while it added imprints like Dafina, for African American readers; Aphrodisia, its erotic romance line; and Kteen, for young adults, Kensington continued to push its traditional romances and mysteries under the Kensington, Zebra, and Brava imprints. Kensington publicist Adeola Saul referred to one of the new series as “cozies with a personal touch.” The company plans to release one hardcover and one to two mass-market original cozies and one trade paper historical mystery per month.
The new lines followed a popular trend, combining mystery with personal interests—like cooking (recipes included), quilting, or history. As examples, Auerbach pointed to Nancy Coco’s just released All Fudged Up (November 5), which features a twentysomething heroine who inherits her grandfather’s fudge shop, her adopted white bichon/poodle, ten fudge recipes—and murder—and Mary Marks’s Forget Me Knot: The Quilting Mystery Series, set for January 2014. For the historical expansion, she noted titles like David O’Stewart’s already published The Lincoln Deception and Tessa Harris’s The Devil’s Breath (January), a new addition to the well-received Dr. Silkstone Mysteries, which were folded into the new historical mystery line.
Not surprisingly, Kensington’s mysteries play well in the library market, which accounted for about six percent of the company’s total print sales, said Steven Zacharius, president and CEO.
Zacharius noted in an email to LJ that all new titles were being released simultaneously in ebook and print and that the company’s backlist had been “converted into ebook for all titles for the past seven years approximately…. We are continuing to convert older backlist titles to ebooks on a regular basis.”
Zacharius also reiterated Kensington’s library ebook policy. “We’re one of the few companies that sells ebooks to libraries under normal pricing terms,” comparable to retail pricing with no loan caps. That should give librarians more to toast when they raise a glass to Kensington at the company’s 40th anniversary celebration, planned for the American Library Association annual conference in Las Vegas in 2014.
HarperCollins, Scribd Ink Subscription Deal
On October 1, Scribd, a digital reading and publishing platform for books, academic papers, documents, and more, announced the launch of a global all-you-can-read flat-rate book subscription service at $8.99 per month—and HarperCollins became the first major publisher to sign on. The subscription deal would allow subscribers to select backlist titles only, which are more than a year old, from HarperCollins US and HarperCollins Christian. The draw for Harper was Scribd’s 80 million users, more than any other similar service, and the easy availability of the book via iPhones, Androids, iPads, and web browsers.
The arrangement would give Harper backlist titles “significant additional exposure [that] we think will increase discoverability and boost our books in all channels,” Josh Marwell, HarperCollins president of sales, told LJ.
Harper hopes that the deal will push readers toward frontlist ebooks as well, at standard retail prices. “If they find a backlist title they like, they may want to buy the author’s new book,” said Erin Crum, VP of corporate communications at HarperCollins.
In one library reaction, Monique Sendze, IT director at Douglas County Libraries, CO, wondered why Harper wouldn’t look at a similar subscription model for libraries. “The library user base is huge, if that’s what carries weight with HarperCollins,” she said, referring to Scribd’s users and to backlist as a discovery tool for new titles.
When asked to comment on the subscription model, Marwell told LJ, “We are not strangers to exploring new business models, and our existing library policy offers a low cost per circulation model.”
Penguin Random Consolidation Begins
Two divisions of the recently conglomerated Penguin Random House became one on September 30, when Madeline McIntosh, Penguin Random president and COO of the merged company, announced in a memo to staff “the formation of the cross-company Penguin Random House Audio Group,” according to Stuart Applebaum, chief of corporate communications. Amanda D’Acierno was named to head the new group, as well as Fodor’s and Living Language; she was formerly VP and publisher of Random House Audio, Fodor’s, and Living Language. Patti Pirooz was named senior executive producer of the new entity; she was formerly publisher of Penguin Audio. And Dan Zitt, formerly VP of content production at Random House, was to assume the same post for Penguin Random House Audio.