Since Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Scientific American, both Macmillan brands, announced in fall 2010 that they were joining forces, Amanda Moon, senior editor of what is being called the Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux imprint, and Scientific American editor-in-chief Mariette DiChristina have been culling both of their resources to ready the publication of their first books. To generate buzz for the debut title, the May issue of Scientific American has an excerpt from What a Plant Knows by Daniel Chamovitz, which will be released May 22. Using the assets of FSG and Scientific American to co-promote the imprint’s titles is part of Moon’s strategy, and in another bit of synergy, the imprint will look at Scientific American writers for possible books. Other early titles already signed include a book about black holes, Gravity’s Engines by Caleb Scharf, set for August 7, and what Moon called “titillating and provocative” essays on taboo topics from research psychologist Jesse Bering in Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? set for July. Moon expects to do six to eight titles this year and build the list from there.
SA/FSG’s first offering wasn’t a book, it was an app. Journey to the Exoplanets, released last July for $9.99, hit the #1 book app spot in several territories and “spoke to an audience beyond the science community,” according to Moon. SA/FSG hopes to find that sweet spot again with future titles, which could include more apps: “My goal is to spark interest from devoted readers of science books, but also in folks who may not necessarily make regular trips to the science shelf,” said Moon. “The books have to stay true to the science, but they also have to tell a great story or put forward an intriguing way of looking at the world.”
Moon stressed the partnership between the two companies. The imprint hopes to benefit from Scientific American’s four million monthly unique Web visitors, while still applying the same editorial, marketing, and sales standards all FSG titles receive. Since Exoplanet reached sci-fi fans, astronomical art fans, people interested in technology, and even young people, Moon believes the audience for Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s books could be quite broad—it’s just a matter of reaching them with the right titles. If Exoplanet’s success is any indication, FSG and Scientific American may have already discovered the right formula.