When Simon and Schuster’s Atria division published The Secret in 2006, it would have been impossible to predict the phenomenon Rhonda Byrne’s book would become. Even visualizing a blockbuster, the expectations would probably have been a bit more modest than more than 20 million copies sold worldwide five years later. Soon—likely by December or January, predicts Atria publisher Judith Curr—The Secret will mark its 200th week on the New York Times bestseller list.
Before Atria published The Secret and last year’s follow-up, The Secret: The Power, Curr says her benchmark for the market’s interest in spirituality and New Age topics was the sales of the Dalai Lama’s books. Now she looks at sales for Byrne’s books and notes that more copies have been sold this year than last year, evidence that demand is still waxing, not waning. To meet that demand, Atria’s lineup includes a pair of books about achieving bliss, Josh Radnor’s One Big Blissful Thing (Nov.) and Sean Meshorer’s The Bliss Experiment: 28 Days to Personal Transformation (May).
“We were all into happiness last year, but this year will be about bliss,” Curr says. “Happiness seems more temporary, dependent on external factors, but bliss is internally created.”
Also on the way are two February titles that Curr says point to where the New Age category is trending: Ptolemy Tompkins’s The Modern Book of the Dead: A Revolutionary Perspective on Death, the Soul, and What Really Happens in the Life to Come and Elisha Goldstein’s The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life. According to Curr, “What’s happening in spirituality is that it’s becoming more serious—more mainstream.”
Many publishers note the trend of New Age concepts being more widely embraced by a mainstream readership. Brenda Knight, associate publisher at Cleis Press/Viva Editions, also sees books incorporating approaches that are more welcoming to such readers, citing a number of “brain books” that bring together science with New Age philosophy and spirituality. She sees “an explosion of new thinking, new science, and new publishing about the brain—better living through brain chemistry.”
Coming in November is Viva’s The Inspired Life: Unleashing Your Mind’s Capacity for Joy by Susyn Reeve with Joan Breiner, which considers how the science of creating new mental pathways can help people deal with troubling life issues and find greater happiness. The publisher is planning what it hopes will be a widespread communal celebration of the title at 11:11 a.m. on November 11, when its joint campaign with the authors to create an “Inspiration Nation” culminates by encouraging people to purchase copies at that day and time.
Meanwhile, Little, Brown’s Spontaneous Happiness (Nov.) continues Andrew Weil, M.D.’s integrative approach to health and medical topics incorporating Eastern and Western philosophies, this time focusing on mental health. Executive editor Tracy Behar says, “Now that alternative medicine has gone mainstream as far as physical health is concerned, we’ll see it applied more and more to mental health.”
A slew of other titles bring the same sort of big-tent approach to physical and emotional well-being. From Simon and Schuster’s Free Press come Priscilla Warner’s Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life (Sept.) and Martha Beck’s Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaiming Your True Nature (Dec.). The many offerings from Inner Traditions/Bear & Company include Planetary Healing: Spirit Medicine for Global Transformation by Nicki Scully and Mark Hallert (Sept.), Max Popov’s Weight-Resistance Yoga: Practicing Embodied Spirituality, and, providing tips on reducing stress and dealing with illness and depression from an unusual source, New World Mindfulness: From t he Founding Fathers, Emerson, and Thoreau to Your Personal Practice by Donald McCown and Dr. Marc Micozzi(Dec.).
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the aging boomer population, several publishers are also bringing together similar nontraditional, alternative spirituality approaches with research and practical advice in the area of aging.
Gotham Books publisher William Shinker says that while the house isn’t doing as many New Age titles as formerly, the proposal for Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser (Jan. 2012) by bestselling author and Zen Buddhist teacher Lewis Richmond had immediate appeal for his editorial team.
“We felt that given the shift in the demographics of the country, with the baby boomers turning 65, they’d be looking for a book like this,” says Shinker. The publisher is confident that the title will find a ready market, given Broadway Books’ experience with Richmond’s first book, Work as a Spiritual Practice, and healthy sales for the publisher’s own Jungian-focused book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis (2006), which Shinker describes as “a very nice success.”
Focusing on a related topic is New World Library’s Leaning into Sharp Points: Practical Guidance and Nurturing Support for Caregivers by Stan Goldberg (Mar. 2012), which focuses on helping people cope in the difficult circumstance of caring for those they love as they face the end of life and related issues. And since this is the New Age category, after all, what about what comes after death? One of Llewellyn’s lead fall titles is Mark Anthony’s Never Letting Go: Heal Grief with Help from the Other Side (Oct.), which offers advice on how to connect with dead loved ones as a method of coping with loss.components/article_pagination.html not found (No such file or directory)