In August 2009, Jim Joseph was named president and COO of Globe Pequot Press. At the time the Guilford, Conn., press was going through something of an identity crisis. In the three years before Joseph’s appointment, Globe Pequot had been trying to remake itself along the lines of a New York City trade publishing house. Its Lyons Press imprint, known for outdoor and recreation titles, extended its reach to include Peter Golenbock’s controversial novel 7: The Mickey Mantle Story after it was dropped by HarperCollins. At the same time, Globe Pequot began tying the magazine offerings of Morris Communications, its parent company, into its book publishing program by adding the skirt! Books imprint. And it introduced a For Dummies–style series, Knack Books.
“Times have changed,” explained Joseph. “In addition to not spending the money we did, we’ve gotten back to our roots. We really try to focus on local interest and travel. FalconGuides [for outdoor travel] have always been a strong brand, and we have a strong Lyons program.” The economy and Morris’s two-month prepackaged bankruptcy last year contributed to GPP’s decision to cut back. The publisher’s list has been reduced by about 25%, to 370, and the staff has shrunk to 100, from 135, although cover design has been brought in-house.
But the press hasn’t needed to spend in the low seven figures or even the high six to get traction for recent books, including several skirt! titles. “Property assets mean a lot to us,” said Joseph. “We’ve really tried to leverage the products available to us.” Former CNN producer Linda Erin Keenan’s tales of suburbia, Suburgatory, in the skirt! imprint became the basis for this fall’s ABC sitcom of the same name, and Globe Pequot has done a 35,000-copy first printing for the title. Another GPP media tie-in is Joe Hutto’s Illumination in the Flatwoods, about a man who raises two dozen wild turkeys in Florida; it’s the companion volume to PBS’s 50-minute documentary My Life as a Turkey. And horseman Buck Brannaman’s The Faraway Horses, written with William Reynolds, inspired the motion picture Buck, winner of the U.S. Documentary Audience Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
With fewer books on its list, the press is better able to stay on top of titles like Crazy Sexy Diet, Kris Carr’s follow-up to Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. Published in January, Sexy Diet spent two weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and continues to sell briskly, with about 90,000 copies sold in hardcover. Globe Pequot has high hopes for the just released How Georgia Became O’Keeffe, Karen Karbo’s follow-up to The Gospel According to Coco Chanel, and the publisher has also had success with quickly produced topical books like R.B. Scott’s political biography, Mitt Romney.
Globe Pequot continues to change with the times, converting all its books into e-books, and, after Golenbock’s novel, 7, it’s sticking with one of its original publishing criteria, no fiction. “The business has its highs and lows,” said Joseph. “Certainly Borders was a big blow to us. And Amazon and Barnes & Noble were conservative [in their buys]. Hopefully, we’ll have a decent Christmas and have fun.”