New England is home to a number of large and mid-size publishers—the headquarters for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are there, as is Perseus’s Da Capo Press and part of one of the big five trade houses, Hachette. But although a number of large publishers in New England have reconfigured themselves in recent years, perhaps none has undergone a bigger transition in 2014 than Quarto Publishing Group USA, the U.S. branch of the U.K.-based illustrated book publisher. President and CEO Ken Fund says that this year has been “nothing less than transformative.”
For starters Quarto, formerly Quayside, took a new name. It is also bumping its list up to 460 from 400 titles in 2013, and it launched two new imprints: Rock Point Gift and Stationery and Walter Foster, Jr. Rock Point will publish journals, kits, calendars, cards, and stationery items that complement the press’s illustrated book program. Children’s imprint Walter Foster, Jr. will publish 20 books for young children. In addition, Quarto shifted its order processing, customer services, credit control, and fulfillment functions to Hachette and grew its QDS distribution service business with the addition of another New England house, JG Press.
HMH is one of several publishers marking significant milestones in 2014. Its children’s division, which publishes 250 books a year, is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2014 and has several titles with mega-anniversaries of their own. It’s Mary Poppins’s 80th this year, while Curious George, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes are in their 75th year. “We are bursting with pride to be celebrating our sesquicentennial,” says Betsy Groban, senior v-p and publisher for HMH Books for Young Readers. “It means that HMH, called Hurd & Houghton at the time, started publishing books for ‘boys and girls’ during the Civil War—an incredibly rare and enduring legacy. Many of our books have won awards, many have been bestsellers, and best of all, many have made a real difference in the lives of children and adults. It’s wonderful to celebrate this historic milestone.”
On the adult trade side, HMH publishes 160 titles a year plus 38 cookbooks. Among its releases is another anniversary title, Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter’s The Nixon Tapes (July), which is being published in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s resignation. Due out in the fall is a memoir from Boston’s five-term mayor, Thomas M. Menino, Mayor for a New America (Oct.), with Jack Beatty, along with Randall Munroe’s What If? (Sept.), based on his webcomic xkcd. According to publicity v-p, executive director Lori Glazer, when Munroe announced on his website that he had signed a book deal, “preorders went crazy.” Despite the strength of frontlist, Bruce Nichols, senior v-p and publisher of the general interest group, notes that 70% of the press’s sales come from backlist.
Mining connections between its k-12 organization and trade is another important aspect of HMH. “The Common Core has given us opportunities to utilize the experts on the editoral side and integrate much of the middle-grade and YA fiction and nonfiction content into curriculum material and offer trade material that addresses needs in the schools,” explains Gary Gentel, president of HMH trade and consumer publishing. “We’ve also spent the last year putting our e-commerce strategy together and will be launching several products over the next few months.” HMH is currently in the midst of testing subscription models for math and reading products for elementary school-age kids as well as test prep for older students through Cliff Notes.
Da Capo, which turns 50 in 2014, is expanding into practical business books. Recent acquisitions include We Need to Talk by Jeff Motske, president and CEO of Trilogy; Love the Hustle by Elle Kaplan, CEO and founding partner of LexION Capital management; and A Higher Standard by four-star Army general Ann Dunwood. But memoirs from heavy metal rockers continue to be a press staple, notes v-p and publisher John Radziewicz, singling out Anthrax’s Scott Ian, I’m the Man (Oct.), and Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, Dark Days (Feb. 2015). The press’s Lifelong imprint, which focuses on wellness, is also going strong, with books on vegan and gluten-free cooking. It just released actress Jennifer Esposito’s celiac diet, Jennifer’s Way, and will publish the second cookbook from Emeril Lagasse’s daughters, Jilly Lagasse and Jessie Lagasse Swanson, later this year, The Lagasse Girls’ Big Flavor, Bold Taste—and No Gluten! (Oct.).
For Tuttle Publishing in Rutland, Vt., which has been owned and managed by the Tuttle family since its founding 182 years ago, perhaps the biggest change is its continued expansion into children’s, travel, and crafts. That its children’s program in particular has struck a chord with readers and critics is indicated by two recent awards: a 2013–2014 Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature for Jet Black and the Ninja Wind, by husband-and-wife team Shogo Oketani and Leza Lowitz; and a 2013 Crystal Kate Award for Benjamin Martin’s Samurai Awakening.
In February, Tuttle released a 60th anniversary edition of another popular children’s title, Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade, illustrated by Yoshisuke Kurosake. Still, the one book that gets to the heart of Tuttle’s mission to bridge the gap between East and West just might be a nonfiction title for adults, Terry E. Miller and Ronald G. Knapp’s newly released America’s Covered Bridges. “This title perfectly reflects our history as a New England publisher and our ongoing publishing mission,” says sales and marketing director Christopher Johns. “The Tuttle Company published the first book on New England’s covered bridges back in 1932.”
Among the more than 300 print titles on Guilford, Ct.-based Globe Pequot Press’s list for 2014, marketing and publicity director Shana Capozza singles out two as the press’s biggest books for the fall. My Heart Is a Drunken Compass (Nov.) is the follow-up to Domingo Martinez’s first book, The Boy Kings of Texas, which ended with his fiancée plummeting off the side of an overpass after having a seizure while driving. It was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award and has been optioned by HBO. “He is a wonderful person and author, and we’re thrilled to be working with him again,” says Capozza. Also back on the GPP list is another book by Sir Roger Moore, One Lucky Bastard (Oct.), which she describes as a “behind-the-scenes tell-all.” The company is also upping its presence in the digital publishing space. It has recently signed agreements with Oyster Books, Zola Books and Slicebooks. “At Globe Pequot we recognize the fundamental importance of not only great content, but also of maximizing the audience-driven marketing verticals that are necessary in the new publishing paradigm,” says managing director Alexander Merrill.
Although Candlewick continues to be selective about its list, which includes books from around the world, this spring’s titles have been jokingly referred to in-house as the “New England list.” Among the standouts are Alicia Potter’s newly released picture book biography of Patrick Gilmore, Jubilee!, illustrated by Matt Tavares, about the bandleader who turned Boston into a music center after the Civil War ended when he staged the 1869 National Peace Jubilee. Also on the list is a verse novel about poet Emily Dickinson, Miss Emily by Burleigh Mutén, illustrated by Matt Phelan, and John Rocco and Jay Primiano’s Swim That Rock, which captures what it’s like to be a boy growing up along the New England coast.