Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s purchase of John Wiley’s cookbook and reference lines in November 2012 gave a big boost to overall sales at the HMH trade publishing group, but it’s not the only New England publisher with sales that are cooking. The Taunton Press, Harvard Common Press, and Countryman, to name just a few, are all strong contenders in the cooking niche, and in mid-April America’s Test Kitchen’s newly released The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook, which has 100,000 copies in print, began climbing the New York Times bestsellers list.
Like other segments within HMH, culinary is working on a digital project for consumers. Bruce Nichols, senior v-p and publisher of HMH’s general interest group, couldn’t share many details yet, but says the new products won’t be books. “We don’t want to compete with retailers,” he explains. Nichols expects to begin testing the website and app internally within a matter of weeks, externally later this summer. HMH is also expanding its culinary area by developing new editions of well-known brands it bought from Wiley, like the 5th edition of Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook (Dec.).
ATK in Brookline Village, Mass., has been growing, too. “Sales are very much up, way up,” says Elizabeth Carduff, editorial director of the book program. Not only is the press increasing the number of books it does a year from nine or ten to perhaps a dozen but it has added more editorial staff and cooks. “People look to us for recipes that really work,” says Carduff, pointing to Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution (Jan. 2015), the third addition to its Slow Cooker Revolution line, which has sold more than 450,000 copies. The press also prides itself on finding ways to solve problems, as with The Make-Ahead Cook (Sept.). “There’s a chapter I love,” says Carduff, “on one grocery bag, three dinners.”
Over the past few years, Countryman Press in Woodstock, Vt., a division of W.W. Norton & Company, has shifted its focus away from travel to lifestyle, particularly cooking. As a result, sales are “booming,” says editorial director Kermit Hummel, up about 40% over last year. Like other cookbook publishers, Hummel says that customers want print. “Cookbooks still work as a source of inspiration,” he notes. “Thumbing through a cookbook, you get inspired to try new things.” This fall Countryman has a number of new cookbooks, including King Arthur Whole Grain Baking (Oct.), along with more regional titles with national appeal, like Ellen Stimson’s Good Grief (Oct.), a followup to Mud Season.
“Cookbooks and children’s book sales are the fastest growing sectors of our publishing program. In the past couple of years we’ve seen growth in the double digits while, sadly, everything else remained flat,” says Michel Moushabeck, founder and publisher of Interlink Publishing in Northampton, Mass. Moushabeck, who will publish 16 illustrated cookbooks in 2014, attributes part of the sales strength of Interlink’s cookbooks to their appeal to museums and gift shops, as well as bookstores. He anticipates strong sales for upcoming cookbooks like Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra’s Wrapped (June) and Sally Butcher’s Salmagundi (Aug.).
Coming off of a strong holiday season, 31-year-old Storey Publishing in North Adams, Mass., is introducing Storey Basics this spring, single-subject books priced at $9.95 for DIYers on Knife Skills, How to Make Maple Syrup, and How to Make a Quilt. “We saw a need for good authoritative information for someone who just wants to get started,” says publisher Deborah Balmouth. The press is also continuing to add more cooking titles like Adam Danforth’s just released Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat, and Pork, which is aimed at small farmers and chefs and was excerpted in the Huffington Post.
Harvard Common Press cut its list in half two years ago and is now doing eight books a year, primarily in the food space. Last fall it turned its Boston offices into a co-working space, The Food Loft, for 10 food and tech entrepreneurs. And it is already looking to expand the program by building out space and holding more networking and partnership-building events throughout the city. “[It] gives us a great view into some of the interesting ways that entrepreneurs are trying to build solutions that meld tech and content, and what that might mean for the future of publishing, media, and more,” says associate publisher Adam Salamone.
Next month HCP will publish a 20th anniversary revised edition of Cheryl and Bill Jamison’s Smoke & Spice, with full-color photos throughout. In spring 2015, it will publish The Barbecue Lover’s Big Book of BBQ Sauces under the Smoke & Spice brand. “We’re also investing heavily in other author brands,” says Salamone, singling out blogger Jessica Fischer, whose Best 100 Juices for Kids is just out and will be followed by Good Cheap Eats this fall.
Long known for its religion and Eastern titles, Boston-based Shambhala Publications’s very first cookbook came out more than 40 years ago, Edward Espe Brown’s The Tassajara Bread Book, and continues to be a staple. Three years ago, executive v-p Sara Bercholz decided to add more books that focus on cooking, crafts, and creative living under a new imprint, Roost Books. “I knew cookbooks,” says Bercholz, whose mother collects them. While Shambhala publishes 80 new titles a year, Bercholz doesn’t have a specific target for Roost, which will do nine food-related titles this year and next. They include Amy Chaplin’s At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen (Oct.), Ashley English’s Handmade Gatherings (Apr.) and Quench (Oct.), and the paperback re-issue of Beatrice Peltre’s La Tartine Gourmande (Oct.), with a new subtitle that stresses the fact that all the recipes are gluten-free. For the hardcover, Bercholz chose “Recipes for an Inspired Life.” “Ultimately,” she says, “I decided that it’s a book that anyone should enjoy.”
Taunton in Newtown, Conn., has one set of advantages that few other New England presses have, multimedia outlets: magazines, websites, and a PBS-TV show, Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking. “We leverage our magazine franchises in a number of ways,” explains Carolyn Mandarano, senior managing editor of books, and Jay Annis, v-p of trade sales in an email to PW. “We publish content from our magazines in curated collections, and the magazine and book staffs work collaboratively to develop authors who can grow beyond one magazine feature or a single book concept. While the number of titles we publish [nearly 60 a year] won’t change dramatically, we continually look at our categories and shift the focus to meet changes in the market.” About 20% of the Taunton list is made up of originally authored cookbooks, Fine Cooking–branded cookbooks, and co-published titles with Academia Barilla. Among the press’s upcoming books are Jenna Short’s Cooking Allergy-Free and Linda Amendt’s Blue Ribbon Canning Across America.