HarperCollins Launches Two New Imprints
Judy Quinn -- 8/25/97
Cliff Street Books will be an autonomous unit; HarperFlamingo part of adult trade
It's late afternoon August 19, and HarperCollins senior v-p Diane Reverand is understandably a bit weary, given that she's spent much of the day in sales conference meetings and, worse yet, has to face an inquiring PW reporter at the end of them.
But Reverand's face brightens as she sits down to show a bulging folder of notes from HarperCollins's archives that led her to the name for her new imprint, Cliff Street Books, which will be stamped on book spines starting this fall. "I had so much fun researching this," said Reverand, who noted that she never wanted the imprint to be eponymous. Instead, Reverand said, she drew on the roots of HarperCollins; the name comes from the original address of the Harper &Brothers Publishing Company in lower Manhattan and the imprint colophon is an old illustration of the door of the building at 82 Cliff Street.
The imprint is being officially announced here in these pages, as well as in the first spread of HarperCollins's just-off-the-press winter/spring '98 catalogues, alongside a new literary imprint, HarperFlamingo, that will launch in January and be headed by HarperCollins editor-in-chief and associate publisher J lle DelBourgo and HarperPerennial publishing director Susan Weinberg (and on which more details will be provided next week). HarperFlamingo will fall under HarperCollins Adult Trade, while Reverand told PW that her imprint will be more autonomous.
Reverand, who also now has the title of Cliff Street Books publisher, expects to publish about 15 books a year. She isn't bothered that the imprint didn't get announced in the fall catalogue, which also listed two titles that turned out to be part of the house's now-infamous cancellation of some 100 titles. "I don't think the trade really cares about that; they care about the books," she said.
She also didn't want to comment on how her role at HarperCollins has changed since the former Villard publisher came to the house in 1994 to be editor-in-chief and associate publisher of the adult trade division under then-publisher Jack McKeown. Reverand will still, in fact, work with some of writers on the regular adult trade list, including John Gray, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Dr. Dean Ornish, Louise Erdrich and Susan Chira.
Reverand feels it's important to have imprints to delineate an experienced editor's vision and taste. A self-described "dilettante," Reverand has an eclectic mix of nonfiction and fiction lined up: fall hardcover Cliff Street titles include the latest nonfiction from top-selling authors Laura Schlessinger (10 Stupid Things Men Do to Mess Up Their Lives) and Robert Fulghum (Words I Wish I Wrote); a novel (Plain Seeing) by Sandra Scofield; a book of Celtic wisdom called Anam Cara (for which author John O'Donahue will tour with Irish musicians); a call to arms from young Sierra Club president Adam Werbach (Act Now, Apologize Later); and a lifestyle book (Secrets of a Fashion Therapist) by Betty Halbreich. Reverand points to a fall title, The Trees in My Forest by Bernd Heinrich, as an example of her mission to continue HarperCollins's tradition; Heinrich has been called a modern-day Thoreau, and Harper Brothers originally published Thoreau. This winter will see the publication of a thriller, The Eleventh Plague, which had been announced for last fall but required more editing, said Reverand. It's now more closely tied to an expected summer 1998 film adaptation by Fox 2000, which bought the film rights for $2.8 million. And as a former developer of the Princeton Review while at Random House, it's no surprise the Reverand has Princeton professor Howard Greene's The Select: Realities of Life and Learning in America's Elite Colleges on the winter list. Also on her list is a self-help guide, Dumped! A Survival Guide for the Woman Who's Been Left by a Man She Loved, which will get an interesting counterpoint with What Men Want: Three Professional Men Reveal the Truth, a book brought to her by The Rules agent Connie Clausen. Other upcoming titles include more from Schlessinger and new novels by Swain Wolfe, Beth Gutcheon, Barbara Lazaer Ascher and Mutant Message Down Under author Marlo Morgan. Reverand also recently signed up Real Age: Are You as Young as You Can Be? by Newsweek-featured Dr. Michael Roizen; and, in a no doubt significant, preemptive bid, Three Month Fever, a new nonfiction novel about serial killer Andrew Cunanan by Gary Indiana, hot off his well-received, Menendez-inspired Resentment (Doubleday).
Reverand said she'll be making the rounds at the regional bookselling shows to introduce her imprint and she may also celebrate it with a party for another fall title, The 2000-Year-Old Man in the Year 2000 by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner -- an update destined to be implemented by Reverand, who noted that her husband insisted she listen to the old Reiner-Brooks routines "before he would marry me!" She's joking, of course, but it was no joke that after our interview, Reverand's day was still not over: off she went to attend a performance of Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding with the visiting HarperCollins sales reps.
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