New Age publisher Llewellyn Worldwide's multifaceted approach to publishing is exemplified in the release of two recent astrology titles. The 102-year-old company is saluting its past by reissuing the A to Z Horoscope Maker and Interpreter by company founder Llewellyn George, first published in 1910 as the A to Z Horoscope and Delineator. And, in keeping with Llewellyn's commitment to incorporating the latest technological advances into its offerings, the house is releasing a title specifically targeted to beginning astrologers called Mapping Your Birthchart, packaged with a CD-ROM. This new release, by Stephanie Jean Clement, is the first in Llewellyn's nine-volume Astrology Made Easy series.
Talking about the reissue of A to Z Horoscope Maker, Sandra Weschcke, who owns the publisher with her husband Carl, said, "We've updated and expanded it for the 21st century reader, whether beginner or seasoned professional." Since its publication in 1910, A to Z has sold 200,000 copies; the revised edition will have a first printing of 10,000 copies. Meanwhile, Mapping Your Birthchart includes a state-of-the-art computer program that allows readers to create horoscopes. The initial print run was 5,000, and the book has just gone back to press for a second run of 5,000 copies.
Weschcke believes that catering to different markets—readers from the beginning to the most advanced stages of interest in astrology, witchcraft, the occult, metaphysics, natural healing and spiritual growth—is the single most important reason for Llewellyn's success. Llewellyn is known both for its lighter, bestselling titles, such as Solitary Witch by Ravenwolf (65,000 copies sold in the last year), and its heavier titles for professionals, such as the Golden Dawn Enochian Skyring Tarot.
Weschcke told PW that incorporating the latest technological advances in its publications is essential for the company's continued success. Llewellyn Worldwide has always regarded itself as both a leader and an innovator in its niche market, ever since George published the company's first title in 1901, the Llewellyn Moon Sign Handbook and Gardening Guide. For instance, in 1994, Llewellyn started publishing Spanish-language titles.
Ten years later, Llewellyn publishes 16 Spanish-language titles each year and devotes 24 pages of its 144-page catalogue to its Spanish-language publications. While the press initially focused on markets in South America and Mexico, Weschcke said that the strongest market for the press's Spanish-language titles currently is the U.S. According to Weschcke, Barnes & Noble and Borders now sell a lot of Llewellyn's Spanish-language titles.
Like other publishers, Llewellyn's sales dropped off in 2001 and remained flat in 2002, forcing the company to lay off 13 employees, or 10% of its workforce, late in 2001. After streamlining operations by refining the responsibilities of its marketing and sales departments in 2002, company officials already see results. Sales are back up to pre-2001 levels; the company ended the 2003 fiscal year in June with $16 million in gross sales and a return rate of 12%. Weschcke expects the rebound in sales to continue. "We are expecting an excellent year," she said.
"Our market is expanding. It's not because we are becoming more mainstream—rather, society is becoming more accepting of alternative ways of thinking." She added, "We know where we came from, we know where we're at, and we know where we're headed."