Magazine and book publishers make natural partners. While linking books and magazines is not new—Hearst released The Good Housekeeping Everyday Cookbook in 1903—the number of brand-identified books is growing.
Some magazine companies maintain in-house book publishing operations to maximize profitability and enhance synergies. Rodale internally manages magazine and book publishing, direct-mail and online activities, and releases 110 books a year (distributed by St. Martin's), some tied to its magazine brands. Titles include The Men's Health Hard Body Plan; A Man, a Can, a Plan, based on a Men's Health cooking column; and the Runner's World Complete Book of Running. All have at least 200,000 copies in print.
Meredith also produces magazines and books in-house, releasing 70 new book titles a year. About half are tied to its magazines, primarily Better Homes & Gardens, and the other half to licensed brands. The Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, which launched Meredith's book publishing efforts in the 1930s, is in its 12th edition and has sold more than 30 million copies.
American Express Publishing internally publishes books tied to Food & Wine, including two annual recipe collections, Food & Wine Magazine's Wine Guide and repackaged backlist titles such as the Quick from Scratch series (Sterling Publishing distributes in trade channels). Twenty titles are currently in print.
Time Inc. Home Entertainment is the AOL Time Warner division charged with developing books based on Time Inc. magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Time, People, Life and This Old House—the most active franchises—as well as Essence, Popular Science, Golf and others. Titles are released under magazine-specific imprints (e.g., Time Books). The company's typical process is to reconfigure magazine content into book format, with magazine staff, packagers or freelancers compiling the information; publish in formats such as illustrated coffee-table books, almanacs, do-it-yourself titles and continuity series; and distribute through AOL Time Warner channels to the book trade, to magazine subscribers via direct response and, in the case of softcovers, to outlets that sell magazines.
A Licensing Link
Some magazines opt to license their brand names to outside book publishers, allowing them to focus on what they do best. Golf Digest, for example, co-published several titles with Simon & Schuster, but when that venture wound down in the late 1990s, it decided to license instead. "We realized we really needed to get out of the production, distribution and marketing of books," said Tom Emanuel, director of business development for Golf Digest Companies. "While we were really good at publishing magazines, we weren't that good at publishing books." Golf Digest titles include Fodor's biannual travel book Places to Play; HCI's Chicken Soup for the Golfer's Soul (m0re than 1.1 million sold); and U.K.—based Carlton Publishing's new high-end illustrated book, Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Golf Courses.
Hearst forged a long-term licensing arrangement with Sterling at the beginning of 2002. The Hearst Books imprint has a backlist of 110 titles and plans to publish 68 more in 2003. Success stories have included House Beautiful Decorating Style, Country Living Decorating, Victoria Charms of Tea, Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Pregnancy & Baby Care and Popular Mechanics Home How-To. All told, customers have purchased about 1.5 million copies each of books based on the Victoria, House Beautiful and Country Living brands.
The Cartoon Bank, a subsidiary of the New Yorker, created a searchable database of all 60,000 New Yorker cartoons published since 1925. About four years ago, it signed Bloomberg Press for themed anthologies including the 2002 New Yorker Book of Golf Cartoons and this spring's New Yorker Book of Baseball Cartoons. The Bloomberg series' bestseller, The New Yorker Book of Business Cartoons, has sold 60,000 copies in paper and cloth since 1998, according to John Crutcher, director of marketing.
Some magazine companies rely on a combination of in-house development and licensing. In the last five years, Primedia has authorized at least one book from 120 of its 285 trade and consumer magazines, according to Jacqueline Blum, president of Primedia Enterprises. The company licenses books tied to its automotive group—which includes Hot Rod, Motorcyclist, Circle Track and Car Craft— to MotorBooks International, HP Books, Cartech and others, while it internally produces and distributes titles for Creating Keepsakes, In-Fisherman and Climbing.
Jane's Information Group, which began as a book publisher, markets about 150 high-end titles, including 20 magazines, directly to government, military and professional channels. But when it wanted to satisfy demand from consumers eight years ago, it licensed HarperCollins to produce bookstore-distributed, inexpensive, streamlined recognition guides for aircraft, guns, warships and tanks. "The price points of most Jane's publications are beyond the reach of the average hobbyist," said John Boatman, chief content officer.
Houses that develop books internally sometime license out on a case-by-case basis, especially for narrowly focused special-interest titles. Meredith took this route for a book on antique tractors tied to Successful Farming.
"You have to work with a publisher that understands the special interest/enthusiast business," said Jason Klein, former president & CEO of Times-Mirror Magazines (now part of Time Inc.). Times-Mirror's titles included Field & Stream, Outdoor Life and Popular Science; nearly all have inspired books (some licensed and others produced in-house). Most of the licensed titles were done with smaller publishers, experts in specialty distribution.
TV Guide has had several books on the market over the last four to five years, some produced in-house and some licensed, including crossword puzzle books with Barnes & Noble Publishing and a 50th anniversary book with Crown. It recently retained licensing agent SloaneVision Unlimited to handle further brand extension. Glenn Hendricks, SVU's v-p of business development, said potential book concepts include history and trivia books, cookbooks tied to the Celebrity Dish column, holiday gift books and "Best Of" collections.
Bloomberg Press is bringing nine backlist and 16 new Economist titles to the U.S. market this spring, publishing four and distributing the rest. Economist books, linked to the influential U.K.—based publication, have been unavailable in the U.S. for some time, according to Crutcher.
Primedia Enterprises plans to have Seventeen books on the market by early 2004; American Express is considering books tied to Travel & Leisure and Travel & Leisure Golf; Rodale expects expansion in its sports group, which includes Runner's World, Backpacker and Bicycling; Hearst is developing more home reference titles for Good Housekeeping and Popular Mechanics; and Time Inc. will release its first book tied to InStyle this year. "We're pretty bullish about this," said Rob Gursha, president of Time Inc. Home Entertainment, of the company's book program.
A Mutually Beneficial Arrangement
Ties between magazine and book publishers—or between corporate divisions—bring benefits to both. "[Book publishing] helps extend the brand and extend what we're trying to do, which is provide quality content to our readers," said Marshall Corey, director, branded services and retail sales, American Express Publishing. "Our readers are very loyal, and they've asked for it."
For magazines, books represent a logical way to increase exposure, repurpose content and offer subscribers something of value, as well as turning a profit. Klein noted an intangible benefit: book publishing is a means of keeping the magazine's staff happy, since editors are often satisfied creatively and generate supplemental income by putting together or writing the books.
A relationship with a magazine brand is positive for book publishers, as well. Sterling president Charles Nurnberg noted that the Hearst deal brought the company "immediate consumer awareness, instant credibility for the product and superior editorial for a good price."
In many cases, the magazine brand is perceived by consumers as a trusted authority in that category, such as Good Housekeeping for home-related subjects or Golf Digest for golf. "That's what makes publishers come to us," Emanuel said.
Part of the appeal is pure recognition. Hendricks noted that TV Guide has nine million readers a week—30 million to 35 million impressions when pass-along readership is factored in—plus 98% consumer awareness, all attractive traits to potential licensees.
Of course, the success of such books is predicated on whether there's a fit between the magazine brand and the book's content and format. "It's kind of case-by-case," said Zack Miller, v-p of special projects for MBI Publishing, whose imprint MotorBooks International has tied in with Primedia's Hot Rod and Dirt Rider and Hachette's Road and Track and Cycle World. "It depends on how well-known and how well-regarded a magazine is in the market. The titles that work better [in the automotive category] are more topical and contemporary, rather than historical."
Magazines offer tie-in partners a rich content archive. But publishers pointed out that readers' desires and demands should drive the choice of content—not the other way around. With that in mind, magazine and book publishers typically work closely together in developing books. "The relationship with Sterling functions very much like a partnership," said Jacqueline Deval, v-p and publisher, Hearst Books. "While I'm a Hearst employee, I spend about half my time at Sterling's offices working with the team there on Hearst Books."
The alliance can be even closer if the book and magazine publishers are part of the same company. "The advantage of being a book publisher connected to a magazine company is that magazines hear more from their readers," said Jim Blume, publisher of Meredith Books. "They have an ongoing relationship with those readers. We can tap into that."
"We're learning from our readers all the time," agreed Steven Murphy, CEO of Rodale, which reorganized two years ago along consumer/ brand lines. Rather than having a book and a magazine division, Rodale now has men's health, women's health and sports arms. "Editors, publishers, book and magazine people are all grouped together and charged with the same mission together."
At a minimum, magazine staffers or executives carefully approve all manuscripts and design. "We have to protect our brand," explained Risa Turken, Time Inc.'s v-p of brand licensing.
Magazine and book publishers also work together on promotions and marketing. In one form of synergy, magazines sometimes run an excerpt from the book, although they're careful not to cross the line between editorial and advertising. "Our editors-in-chief are their own masters," said Murphy. "We don't ask for, or usually get, coverage for the books we publish." (It also should be noted that magazine-linked books won't be reviewed or excerpted in competing publications.)
The book's design helps reinforce the brand connection. Deval said Hearst Books is working on a redesign for Good Housekeeping cookbooks that echoes the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Similarly, Parents educational books, published by Learning Horizons under license from Gruner + Jahr, feature a masthead that is consistent with the red swash and logo on Parents magazine, according to Theresa Gamble, Learning Horizons' director of marketing.
A magazine may give a tie-in book publisher preference for advertising space, offer discounted or free rates, or allow wraps or inserts. Some companies, such as Rodale, advertise their books across multiple magazines, which in Rodale's case puts them in front of 11 million people. TV Guide offers its licensees free advertising (a $75,000 value for a half page). "That's a good selling point to licensees," said Hendricks. "Publishers are really interested in that side of it."
Klein cautioned that ads in some larger-circulation magazines don't pull well. A better marketing technique in that case is to send a direct-mail piece to subscribers also identified as book buyers. Niche publications, such as Saltwater Sportsman, tend to be better ad venues.
Magazine tie-ins open up special sales opportunities. American Express has supplied books to Food & Wine licensees for use as premiums, as well as to retailers for gift-with-purchase programs. Sterling has supplied premiums to Hearst's advertising department and its advertisers, as well as merchandise licensees, while Golf Digest has created mini-versions of its books for advertisers. Cartoon Bank has created custom books for corporate clients such as Southwest Airlines. "We see custom books as a nice way to leverage our database without impacting sales of books in stores," said Andy Pillsbury, Cartoon Bank's v-p of business development.
Some publishers have inserted magazine circulation cards, or reader survey cards with discount-subscription incentives, into their books. This mechanism brings a number of challenges, however. The print run on the books has to be large enough to make the project economically feasible, and consumers and retailers tend to be resistant. "Book retailers aren't hip to blow-in cards in books. It's a messy thing," said Miller. "Consumers' expectation is that a book isn't a magazine and shouldn't have advertising in it. If it does, their perception changes."
Tie-in books often include the magazine's Web site address to drive readers to the site, where they can gather additional information and subscribe to the magazine. Cartoon Bank uses its Web site to cross-merchandise books and licensed products; when customers purchased a framed print of a golf image, they received a free copy of The New Yorker Book of Golf Cartoons. The company is thinking of offering theme-based gift baskets that would include books, chocolates, etc.
CartoonBank.com, which features a link to the main New Yorker site, sends out an e-mail to 100,000 CartoonBank subscribers to alert them about new books and direct them to bookstores and online retailers. Pillsbury said such e-mail can raise a book's rank from number 500 to 50 on Amazon.com.
Magazine publishers, to various degrees, have transformed themselves into multimedia content providers. The National Geographic Society is one example. The flagship magazine, which is sent to the society's members, is just one component of the organization's media and entertainment reach. In addition to books and five magazines, it is involved in television production and distribution, cataloguing, consumer products, travel and lecture tours, a Web site and educational activities. Its book division publishes 100 new titles per year under several imprints; three or four are tied to company-wide "content initiatives," according to Nina Hoffman, executive v-p of the National Geographic Society and president of books and education publishing.
How extensively the magazine or multimedia company backs the book publisher depends on the specifics of the deal. "The support varies from project to project and licensor to licensor," said Miller. Some magazines give more editorial coverage than others; some offer discounted ad rates while others don't. "In my mind, these are all negotiated points," he said.
Book publishers tying in with specialty magazines are often already in the same specialty channels—hardware stores, upscale groceries, specialty book clubs—but a link with a periodical can increase sell-in and occasionally open new channels.
Several book and magazine publishers are in talks with retailers about displaying the publications together in stores where both are sold. Nurnberg said Sterling and Hearst are currently negotiating with bookstore chains about taking Hearst titles out of the magazine section and moving them up front, along with related books.
Cross-merchandising is also possible between books and licensed products. Primedia is working on a deal with a retailer for 2003 that would gather its licensed merchandise together in-store. "Wherever any boutiquing occurs, books will be a part of it," said Blum.
In general, the potential audience for books is larger than the magazines' circulation. "While the magazines' readers are an important core readership [for books], the universe of book buyers for the branded books is much larger," said Deval. "The beauty of the brand names is that they have resonance and familiarity to readers, even if they are not currently magazine subscribers."
At the same time, the link to the magazine can create new book customers, especially for special-interest titles. As Miller noted, "We get people who might not usually go into a bookstore but do because they read about the book in the magazine."