HarperCollins outlined the results of the first phase of its Publishing+ program last week, listing downloadable audio, online marketing and proprietary publishing as areas that the company has identified as having the best growth opportunities.
Publishing+ was announced in May as an ambitious but general internal program to grow sales and brand awareness. While not providing too many details, Harper CEO Jane Friedman said that a team had been meeting for several months and had reached several conclusions.
In perhaps the biggest piece of news, the company said that it would launch HarperCollins Publishing Services, a division that would partner with various brands to do proprietary publishing. The move signals a shift for the major houses, which generally leave such subsidized forms of publishing to specialty operators like Tehabi Books.
Also on the new business front, Friedman indicated that downloadable audio would become a growing part of its business, saying, "The team [working on Publishing+] found that the explosive growth of the downloadable music market, with its unique, young demographic, represents tremendous potential for downloadable audiobooks."
And in the direct-to-consumer area, the company cited a willingness to develop links between authors and consumers in places outside the bookstore. It mentioned that "many new online opportunities" are available today, and that it has set a goal of building a database of several million consumer names over the next few years.
On branding possibilities, Friedman's memo noted that a new branding campaign for HarperPerennial in the U.S. will be launched in 2005, in conjunction with U.K. and Australia.
In another trans-Atlantic effort, Friedman said that HC's U.S. reference group will work with Collins in the U.K. to develop "a distinct U.S. consumer brand and business in the wellness, lifestyle and referrence categories."
Finally, Friedman named Carolyn Pittis, currently v-p strategic operations, to a new position as senior v-p, global marketing strategy and operations. Friedman said Pittis will serve as her deputy on implementing Publishing+ programs.
New Look for Harper Design
HC is moving its design division from the international unit into the general books group and revamping its mission, going from only distributing the 75 international books it made available in the U.S. each year to publishing books primarily for the U.S. market.
HC hopes to bring out 85 titles in the U.S. when the change is complete, while publishing an additional 25 titles primarily for the international market. Titles in each category will, however, be eligible for distribution in the other's market, according to general books group president Brian Murray.
As part of the move, HC is promoting Laurie Rippon, currently HarperCollins' creative director, to the role of publisher of Harper Design, though she will retain her creative director role. Unit founder Roland Algrant will stay on as copublisher. Rippon will report to Murray.
Harper Design was originally a Hearst division, specializing in illustrated design books on subjects ranging from interior design and architecture to pop culture. Harper took it over as part of the Morrow acquisition in 1999.
Despite some weakness in the illustrated books market, Murray said that the expansion made sense given Harper Design's track record. "We've had a lot of success with these books in the U.S., and we haven't even had a domestic publisher," he said. "It's a category of leading books that we haven't been as active in as we should have been."