Military history publisher Casemate is adopting new and old publishing and marketing techniques as it approaches its 10th anniversary next spring. In early November, founder and publisher David Farnsworth expects the company's first apps to be available in the Apple App Store and Google's Android Market.
The creation of its own apps is an outgrowth of Casemate's digital strategy, which it began implementing at the beginning of 2010. Farnsworth said that when he decided to enter the e-book market, he wanted Casemate to do its own e-books, and he put together an in-house staff. During the recruiting process, Farnsworth heard about a Philadelphia startup (Casemate is based in nearby Havertown, Pa.) and, after doing his due diligence, decided not only to give his app business to the company but also to make an investment in the firm, called Ebooq. The first 10 apps will be low priced—probably $2.99—and will be a straight conversion of text, but Farns-worth said he expects to develop more sophisticated apps later in 2011.
While Farnsworth is exploring the best ways Casemate can grow its digital business, he has also started using one of publishing's oldest marketing techniques to sell its 4,000 print books—a mail-order catalogue. The first edition of "The Warrior" went to 50,000 customers in May, and the second is planned for around Thanksgiving. Farnsworth said response to the first mailing was "not bad," but added he is hoping for improvement from the next one. A reason Farnsworth launched the catalogue was to give exposure to Casemate's entire list. While the bookstore chains remain important outlets for Casemate, they aren't taking the range of titles they once did, Farnsworth said. "The Warrior" was successful in driving customers not only to order directly from Casemate but to buy titles from online retailers, including specialist sites. Military history enthusiasts are key customers for Casemate, and to reach them the company has upped the number of shows it attends, going to such events as the Military History Weekend and Historicon.
Farnsworth has also tweaked Casemate's list. Once heavily reliant on memoirs, Casemate is doing more third-person accounts and analysis of important military moments. "We're looking for manuscripts that take a different approach" to historical events, Farnsworth said. One such book that did well was Exodus from the Alamo, and Farnsworth is upbeat on the prospects for next April's The Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths and Deceptions, which Farnsworth believes could raise some controversy about the infamous attack. Another book that should appeal to an audience beyond military history fans is Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany, which Farnsworth called an "intriguing biography of one of WWII's best-known personalities." First print for the book, which is just hitting shelves, was just under 10,000.
While Casemate has upped its publishing program to 35 titles a year—a number it will stick to in 2011—distribution still accounts for 60%–65% of revenue, with the company representing more than 30 military history publishers from the U.S., U.K., and Europe. In 2007, Casemate opened a distribution office in the U.K. and next year will start publishing a select number of titles. In the U.S., Casemate has started a new imprint devoted to nonmilitary titles, Newbury Books, which just released its first title, The Sustainable Rose Garden. The imprint is an outgrowth of Athena, a distribution line Casemate established to sell nonmilitary books for its clients in such areas as cooking, travel, and gardening.
Farnsworth said Casemate is having a good year and is looking forward to celebrating the company's 10th anniversary next May. "I'm very excited to be in a position to reach that milestone," Farnsworth said.