Thursday, May 26, 2011

Armchair BEA: Imprints, TV Networks and Movie Studios

When I first started book blogging, I admit, I didn't pay too much attention to who published books. From my days as an independent bookseller, I was more aware of which vendor it came from because then I knew what days  they delivered. There some go-to genre publishers I was familiar with (TOR), but mostly, I just didn't pay attention.

Looking back, I'm struck by how odd that now seems. I was aware of movie distribution. In the late 1990's and early 2000's, I would see every Miramax movie. I paid attention to the kinds of movies they made, and I liked most of them. I didn't need to know the plot, the stars, or the director. If it was Miramax, I'd be there opening weekend. Now I'm more loyal to directors and screenwriters, but it's interesting to look back.

I'm a loyal tv network viewer too. I'll try out most of the new shows on HBO, TNT, USA and AMC. They consistently air quality, scripted drama. I may not keep watching, but the network's reputation will make me tune in at least once.

In the book world, "who published it?" is one of the first questions I ask. Sometimes it's all I need to know. If I hear it's from The Other Press, Norton, or Greywolf, I'm usually sold. All three independent publishers consistently publish quality literary fiction. I don't always love the novels, but I know what I'm getting. If I hear it's one of the big publishing houses who publish quality literary fiction but also publish popular fiction, I have to do a bit more research. Their brand is more diverse, and thus not as well defined. It's the same way in television; I'll look into the new shows on NBC, CBS, and ABC, but I won't necessarily watch all of them.

I'm thrilled by the surge in imprints coming out lately. I think publishers are getting savvy and creating imprints with readers in mind. Perhaps it won't meet most readers, but it helps booksellers and book reviewers.

My go-to publisher has become Norton. Their Fall 2011-Winter 2012 catalog is amazing. I'm planning to read almost all of the novels they're publishing (I've already read some). Some I already wanted to read, but some I discovered when I took the time to read their catalog. It's not something I would have done before book blogging, but now a new Norton catalog is a squeal-worthy event.

Now tell you have a go-to publisher?


  1. Norton published my hands down favorite book of last year -- The Lonely Polygamist. I am anxious to read a new one of theirs, Anne Enright's The Forgotten Waltz.

    Like you, there are some imprints that are pretty uniformly winners for me -- I like Henry Holt's non-fiction, and alot of FSG. By the same token, there are some imprints, that I just know if the book is theirs, it's probably not for me, but that has more to do with genre I think if that makes any sense.

  2. My current favorite is Unbridled Books. I've become much more interested in small press this year, because of the reasons you mention. I'm looking forward to checking out your favorites!

  3. I don't, but now I think I should. I am that way with movies. I know that 99% of Focus films will be great and new AMC shows are a definite on my DVR. So why am I not paying attention to publishers? Thanks for the eye-opener.

  4. Very interesting! Honestly I've never paid attention to publishing houses but your analogy to production studios and TV networks is a great one (I also love Miramax as well as Focus). I'll definitely be paying more attention!

    Still not sure I understand what an imprint is. Off to figure that out!

  5. Fabu post -- I'm going to have to check the imprints/publishers of my favorite books.

  6. I love your analogy to TV/movie studios! So true.

    I've definitely started looking more at imprints over the past year. Of the bigger publishers, I've had lots of luck with Riverhead.

    I only recently discovered Other Press (when I read Galore), but when I looked at their catalog I fell in love. I fully intend to read more of their books in the future.

  7. Well, you listed some of my favorites! I also love Unbridled, Peirene Press, and Amy Einhorn (an imprint of Penguin). Lately Picador has been sending me some awesome books ... I think it helps that I met their publicists last year at BEA and they were really good at taking notes of the kind of books I love. Great post!

  8. Excellent parallels that you draw here. I don't pay a ton of attention to movie houses or publishers - I view/read what strikes my fancy. But I will say that the Amy Einhorn imprint has impressed me lately. I do have more loyalty to TV stations - probably because I have spent so much time with them! I agree with you on AMC - Breaking Bad is tremendous. And I have gone away from HBO over to Showtime now for their original series. Nice to meet you!

  9. I have publishers whose messages I like, publishers who have published some awesome books, publishers who make some of the best-looking books I've ever seen, and publishers I admire. I wouldn't say there's any one publisher I will always read but there are a few brands that mean more to me than others, mostly due to their approach to publishing.

  10. Unbridled Books has been my favorite discovery of 2011. I like Harper and Random a lot too, but like you said, I usually have to do a little research first.

    I haven't checked out Norton yet, but I'll do so right away! Thanks for the heads up.

  11. I have always been thoroughly impressed by Nortons literary compilations. No matter how much I know (think I know?) about a genre, I have always found previously unknown gems. They put out a 5 volume set of Early American writing that is amazing! I believe that the desire to publish the unique would extend to every facet of the biz.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!