The idea for Gallup Press was, in the beginning, about branding more than books. Technically, anyway. “We are heavily involved in consulting and management, but people didn't know that—people knew the polls,” Gallup Press publisher Larry Emond explained. Developing Gallup-branded books, Emond went on, started as a “marketing communications initiative.” Today, though, Gallup's small publishing unit is doing more than getting the word out—it's consistently producing bestsellers.
Gallup Press currently has two books on the Wall Street Journal's hardcover business list—Strengths Finder 2.0 (2007) and this year's Strengths-Based Leadership, both by Tom Rath. (According to Gallup, Strengths Finder 2.0 has sold more than one million copies and Strengths-Based Leadership over 70,000)
Gallup published its debut title, First, Break All the Rules, in 1999 with Simon & Schuster's Free Press. Rules, according to BookScan numbers provided by Gallup, has sold more than 900,000 copies. A second book with Free Press, Now Discover Your Strengths (2001), proved even bigger, selling more than 1.5 million copies.
Emond, who is also chief marketing officer at Gallup, said the company thought about starting its own publishing unit after the success of those first titles, but held off and switched houses instead, to learn more about the publishing process. Gallup did three titles with then-Warner Books before branching out on its own.
The first Gallup Press title was 2004's How Full Is Your Bucket (also by Rath); Gallup said it has sold more than 500,000 copies. Despite the big numbers, Gallup Press has remained a small operation, doing just two new titles per year. First printings are usually in the 50,000—100,000-copy range and titles are distributed by PGW.
Gallup Press uses other Gallup employees to create its books—all titles have been written in-house and Geoff Brewer, who edits the Gallup Management Journal, is associate publisher. The company also uses its polling and research divisions to help determine its list. This, Emond said, helps up the hits-to-misses ratio. Book topics and titles have been discovered through reader feedback and some books have even been killed through the process.
Although Emond wouldn't give specifics on how much revenue Gallup Press brings in, he maintained that the unit is a “very important business.” The success of Gallup's books has also made the company think about expansion. Right now though, Emond said, the company is sticking to the small, internal model.