Random House of Canada is launching an online magazine, a new program for publishing e-book originals and a newly renovated Web site as a part of an ambitious new three-pronged digitial strategy.
The new magazine, Hazlitt, (named after 19th Century British author and journalist Williams Hazlitt) is intended to be Random House of Canada’s "signature online editorial and digital habitat." But it aims to goes beyond being a digital showcase for the company’s authors and content, and to be a fully realized online magazine, examining culture and current affairs on a daily basis. Robert Wheaton, v-p and director, strategic digital business development, says: "The mission is to provide a compelling, entertaining, informative online magazine, and the things that online magazines do best, and to publish work at its natural length, whether that is a 500-word blog post or a short online film or a marquee online feature."
To do that, Random House has hired two prominent journalists: Christopher Frey, as director of digital publishing and Hazlitt editor-in-chief, and Alexandra Molotkow, as Hazlitt senior editor. Frey founded the travel magazine Outpost and was the founding editorial director of the online newspaper Toronto Standard. Molotkow was most recently associate editor at The Walrus magazine and a columnist at Toronto Standard.
Authors and journalists including Lynn Crosbie, Kaitlin Fontana, Billie Livingston, Jason McBride, Drew Nelles, and Carl Wilson, as well as filmmaker Scott Cudmore, will be contributors, and the magazine will seek freelance submissions."Our writers are smart, insightful, occasionally combative, funny, and well read – our cast is wildly diverse. We will feature best-selling, award-winning authors alongside young, emerging writers," says Frey.
The second element of the new strategy is Hazlitt Originals, an e-book publishing program for books and essays that will be published in a digital format first. The inaugural e-book is by award-winning Canadian journalist Patrick Graham, titled The Man Who Went to War: A Reporter’s Memoir From Libya and the Arab Uprising. Other upcoming publications include an anti-foodie polemic You Aren’t What You Eat by U.K. journalist Steven Poole, and Ivor Tossell’s The Gift of Ford, about controversial Toronto mayor Rob Ford.
Hazlitt Originals will also publish each idea at its natural length and allow for experiments with the digital format. "The Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for readers to engage with ideas and stories beyond those of the printed book," says Brad Martin, president and CEO of Random House of Canada. "Traditionally, publishers have used their websites for sales and marketing. We believe publishers should also use their websites to publish."
"Lastly, the company's website will be entirely redesigned to house these new ventures, and it is hoped to become a destination site for readers. Wheaton says he "envisions the overall experience of RandomHouse.ca to be akin to that of the best bookstore: reliable recommendations; delightful chance discoveries; and an editorial sensibility that challenges tastes and expands horizons." The site will not sell books directly but will direct consumers to retailers.