Broadside Books, the HarperCollins imprint launched in January with a focus on conservative nonfiction, has already taken its fair share of risks in its short history, none more so than its decisions on the digital front. In April, Broadside launched its original e-book series Voices of the Tea Party, single-subject "pamphlets," each about 5,000 words and priced at $1.99. According to Adam Bellow, editorial director of Broadside, launching the e-book–only series has come with lessons, both good and bad.
"Sales have been quite modest," Bellow acknowledged. The series, which is edited by Michael Patrick Leahy (he also maintains a blog), has taught Broadside that "institutional alliances are critical" in publishing original nonfiction in digital formats. According to Bellow, managing the e-book series is "micropublishing," as opposed to more traditional, top-down, macropublishing. Micropublishing strategy entails reaching out to member groups and Web sites, and developing video content to create viral buzz—exploring any channel that might get the right people to reach the right audience to hear about your product.
Despite modest sales, Bellow believes the e-book series has helped to establish the Broadside brand. It's useful to think of them as "experiments," he said, adding, "I never expected Voices of the Tea Party to be a self-sustaining venture." In addition to helping to create buzz about Broadside, Bellow sees the e-pamphlets as indicating interest about particular topics, which could be expanded into hardcovers. Voices of the Tea Party currently has six titles; the newest, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be released July 19 and counters the ban on the incandescent light bulb. The author is series editor Leahy, but Broadside is also attaching a "bonus e-book" titled The Disastrous Light Bulb Ban by Howard M. Brandston for no additional cost.
On the print side, Broadside will publish seven hardcover titles this year, hoping to build on the success of its bestselling hardcover to date, Revolt! by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, which has shipped 80,000 copies. Broadside is particularly excited about Gov. Jan Brewer's Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America's Border, which ships in the fall. Also this fall, Broadside will start a second original e-book series, Voices of the Hollywood Right. Bellow expects that the two pamphlet series will combine to do 20 titles this year.