Ig Publishing announced that, due to what its editor-in-chief Robert Lasner described as “very disappointing” sales, the Brooklyn press is no longer making acquisitions or publishing frontlist under its three-year-old Lizzie Skurnick Books YA fiction imprint. Lizzie Skurnick Books was launched with much fanfare on the eve of BEA in 2013, with, primarily, reissues of YA classics. Its debut release in September 2013 was a reissue of Debutante Hill by Lois Duncan, which was originally published in 1958.
The eponymous imprint was curated until this summer by Lizzie Skurnick, a freelance journalist and author of Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading (2009), who told PW at the time of the launch that the books targeted adult women who had come of age during the 1970s and 80s and had first read these books as teenagers. “[These books] are not for teens,” Skurnick said. “Teens’ tastes have changed. It’s for adults who want to read, re-read, and collect these books. If mothers and fathers want to share the books, great.”
Since 2013 Ig published 24 titles under the Lizzie Skurnick Books imprint. Besides Duncan, authors included Ellen Conford, Lila Perl, Bethe Amoss, M.E. Kerr, Ernest J. Gaines, Norma Klein, Sydney Taylor, and Joan Lowery Nixon.
Lasner told PW on Thursday that while a few titles sold well, such as Isabel’s War, an original release written by Perl especially for the imprint before she died in 2013, most of the titles sold far below projections. “Considering all the publicity we got with the launch, and after publishing for nearly three years, we had to conclude that, sadly, there is just not an audience for older YA,” he wrote in an email. “Everyone – us, our sales reps – were all surprised, as it seemed like a great idea on paper, but in the real world, it didn't fly.”
Ig executives considered revamping the imprint to publish more new and original releases than reissues, but, Lasner explained, Skurnick was “unable or unwilling” to agree to such changes; hence, the decision – made several months ago – to cease acquiring and publishing titles under the imprint. Lasner emphasized that all 24 titles on the backlist will remain in print and “readily available.” Lizzie Skurnick Books is not ending, he added. “What has ended is new acquisitions by Lizzie Skurnick.” He added that Ig is considering rebranding the imprint at a future date.
Ig, which publishes primarily literary fiction and nonfiction for adult readers, is distributed by Consortium. Bookstores, libraries, and schools may continue to order Lizzie Skurnick titles from Consortium or through wholesalers.
In a note to those on Skurnick’s mailing list, she notified them that the imprint had been shut down “because the publisher has chosen not to continue it,” but promised that “other stuff is in the works to expand the greatness of the era we all love.” Reached via telephone by PW, Skurnick declined to comment, except to say that “maybe [suspending acquisitions] wasn’t handled as well as I would have handled it, but I am proud of the work we did and I know the authors and readers loved it.”