At BEA, Jonathan Merkh, publisher at S&S imprint Howard Books, previewed for PW another addition to its Duck Dynasty franchise, one sure to be closely watched: UnPHILtered, the autobiography of the lightening rod patriarch of the family who ignited a hot controversy with his homophobic comments in the January issue of GQ, has an embargoed release date of September 2. "It's no holds barred,” Merkh said. “He's addressing all of the controversies."
In addition to its major movie tie-in title, Dance of Reality, Inner Traditions displayed its emphasis on books about ayahuasca, the psychoactive substance that is drawing many foreigners to rituals led by shamans in the Peruvian Amazon. Their three current titles include Ayahuasca Medicine (Feb.), The Ayahuasca Experience (Mar.), and Black Smoke (June). V-p, director of sales and marketing John Hays pointed to Ayahuasca Manual, coming in January 2015; all are published under the Park Street Press imprint. Hays also said he is seeing more books on treating and managing cancer; theirs is Yoga for Cancer (Healing Arts Press).
Cancer does seem to be a more common topic as baby boomers age. Wisdom is offering Zen Cancer Wisdom by Suzanne Friedman (Sept.) “It’s helpful for someone who knows someone” dealing with cancer, said publisher and CEO Tim McNeill.
Key fall titles from HarperCollins Christian Publishing include new books from proven authors Max Lucado, Lysa TerKeurst, and Philip Yancey. The NIV Bible translation owned by Zondervan will mark its 50th anniversary in 2015, and a celebration campaign will begin in the fall. Thomas Nelson also will release a Duck Commander Bible for the fall.
Along with its two new books coming soon from Rob Bell, sister imprint HarperOne hopes Jonathan Morris, former Vatican correspondent and Fox News and Sirius-XM Catholic Channel contributor, will join James Martin, bestselling Jesuit and Colbert Report regular, to become its next star priest-author. Morris’ The Way of Serenity: Finding Peace and Happiness in the Serenity Prayer releases in September. Harper also is celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho with a new cover, and is partnering with indie booksellers to promote it. Farther down the road, a new “teaching novel” by Deepak Chopra, The 13th Disciple, is coming in 2015.
Rolf Zettersten, senior v-p of Hachette Nashville (FaithWords, Center Street, Jericho Books), was predictably mum about the Amazon-Hachette contretemps, but said he was pleased with the initial strength of T.D. Jakes’ Instinct (May), reporting four printings and shipping more than 200,000. He expressed high hopes for the fall title Jesus Daily by Aaron Tabor (Oct.), a doctor and businessman who started a devotional page of the same name on Facebook; it has earned 27 million “likes” since it went up in 2009. FaithWords is calling it "the most active Facebook page in history."
For the Baker Publishing Group, known for its muscular fiction program, the fastest-moving ARCs were Thunder, the first book in a new dystopian series by Bonnie S. Calhoun, and A Light in the Wilderness, historical fiction by the popular Jane Kirkpatrick. Baker’s major non-fiction title for fall is The Grave Robber by Mark Batterson (Sept.), bestselling author of The Circle Maker.
Betty Woodmancy, senior v-p of sales at Worthy Publications, cited continuing strong interest in Four Blood Moons by John Hagee, which has 700,000 copies in print and has spent 16 weeks on the Times Advice, How-To, Misc. bestsellers list; a companion study guide and journal are due in the fall.
B&H Kids is partnering with Big Idea Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation to produce a VeggieTales comics series. First titles will release in spring 2015. This fall B&H Kids offers The Donkey in the Living Room by Sarah Raymond Cunningham, illus. by Michael Foster (Sept.). A boxed set that coordinates with the text contains nine wooden figurines that can be displayed in the nine days leading up to Christmas, “a nativity set for kids,” said Marsha Pursley, events strategist.