Founded in 1970 as the trade paperback division of Simon & Schuster but with two names, the imprint formerly known as Touchstone/Fireside will be known as simply Touchstone beginning this week. Though losing half its moniker may seem a fairly momentous change, the move really just formalizes a reality that's existed for some time now: the imprint has one mission, one staff, and now just one name.
"People would say, ‘I'm just so confused by your name,'" said publisher Stacy Creamer, noting that agents in particular were unsure of the distinction between Touchstone and Fireside. She added that when the imprints were founded there was a reason for two names: Fireside published paperbacks, mainly in the areas of diet, health, exercise, and self-help, while Touchstone focused on serious nonfiction and popular trade paper fiction. But the Internet changed all that. Creamer said that as people began going online for information that Fireside's key categories covered, "the whole nature of the industry... changed. Those books were the bread and butter of Fireside, but they've gotten harder to publish." Then, in 2003, both imprints began publishing new hardcovers and trade paperback originals. "We really are one team, one staff, and one unique publishing imprint. It seemed that we only needed one name," said Creamer.
Editorial direction typically changes when new editors and publishers join imprints, and that has been the case at Touchstone. Creamer came to Touchstone/Fireside from Doubleday Broadway in May 2009. "Ever since I got here, I have been eager to rebrand us," she said. "It's more like the name catching up with reality than anything else." Under Creamer's direction, Touchstone has delved deeper into some areas it had previously dabbled in, especially thrillers. In January, it will publish The Obelisk, a thriller by Howard Gordon, executive producer of 24 and, in March, The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani, which Creamer called "a Ludlumesque, action-packed thriller." Touchstone also publishes a fair number of celebrity memoirs: books by Australian singer Rick Springfield, Black Eyed Peas member Taboo, and hip-hop artist Albert "Prodigy" Johnson are slated for publication next spring, while a book by Duff McKagan, founding member of Guns n' Roses is due out next fall. It is also continuing to publish in health, narrative nonfiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction.
Books on Touchstone's fall 2010 list will carry the new name and colophon, as will any backlist titles that are repackaged. For other backlist titles, the publisher said it will decide to use the new name on "a case by case basis."
Touchstone's new colophon of a figure flying through the air next to a star represents "a winged creature in motion, aiming for the stars," Creamer said. She chose it, she said, because it expresses "the vibe we have here of genuine energy and enthusiasm.... The S&S sower [the parent company's colophon shows a figure walking on the ground]—seemed at odds with Touchstone's mission. We felt the new colophon was in the tradition of S&S, but spoke to the passion we feel for our books."