As HarperOne (the imprint formerly known as Harper San Francisco) approaches its 35th anniversary in 2012, the publisher that seeks to inspire transformation is in the middle of a transformation itself. "The first catalogue of Harper & Row San Francisco, said, ‘Philosophy, Religion and Issues of the Day,' " observed Mark Tauber, senior v-p and publisher of HarperOne. While spirituality/religion remains the imprint's top category, Tauber said, the company has been focused on ramping up its healthy living category.
"About three or four years ago we started to look corporately at what categories we exceeded in and what categories we could do better in," said Tauber. While Gideon Weil, v-p and executive editor, had been acquiring health titles, Tauber said they decided to recruit an editor known for publishing top-branded books and franchises in the category. Together, they courted Nancy Hancock, v-p of the wellness program at Rodale Press. Two years ago they brought her on board as executive editor.
Hancock's track record dates back to her experience helping a physician she worked for translate his doctor's office treatments into Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution, which has sold more than 20 million copies since 1972. She also published the Flat Belly Diet and Eat This, Not That books at Rodale. Now, healthy living titles claim three of the top six bestseller spots for HarperOne: Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself by Alejandro Junger (about 173,000 total copies in print); Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches by Cynthia Sass (82,798 copies in print); and Body Confidence: Venice Nutrition's 3-Step Program by Mark MacDonald (35,248 copies in print).
From September through June, HarperOne will publish 10 titles in the healthy living category, beginning with the just-published Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body's Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger and Disease Free by Joel Fuhrman. Senior v-p and associate publisher Claudia Boutote said the imprint is rolling out an "integrated marketing plan" that promotes individual titles while growing its own online community built around its books and authors.
In addition to traditional promotion, HarperOne is adding some new tools to its kit. Each healthy living title will feature a QR code on the back cover for access to value-added materials—extra tips, recipes, demonstrations, author interviews—as well as enabling readers to buy the books from their smartphones. There is also an opt-in to receive text updates on the topic. The company also redesigned its online consumer newsletter dedicated to the topic, "Elixir," through which it will release more Web-based, Facebook, Twitter, and apps material. By January, HarperOne expects to complete a new stand alone Elixir Web site and blog, and all of its other social media efforts will point back to it as a way to build a healthy living destination and community. "It's a passionate audience," explained Boutote. "They are doing something transformative for themselves—a diet, new fitness plan—it's a natural next step to join an online community and share their success."
Over the past six years, HarperOne has produced 60 bestsellers, said Tauber. In the same time, the company went from two-thirds backlist/one-third frontlist ratio to 50/50 today—largely because of health bestsellers. "That's a pretty significant shift," said Tauber. "And it all goes back to our staff."