With its plot device that involves interactive elements (not to mention some product placements), Cathy's Book by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman has garnered lots of media attention for Perseus Book Group's Running Press division. But Cathy's Book, which was released earlier this fall and now has 110,000 copies in print, also represents part of a shift in the publishing direction at Running Press begun by Jon Anderson since he was promoted to publisher a little more than a year ago. Cathy's Book is the first young adult title that Running has committed a comprehensive marketing budget for, but it will not be the last. Running has recently picked up the option for a sequel, tentatively titled Cathy's Book 2, which will be out next fall.
The upgrading of Running's marketing efforts was one of Anderson's first priorities. "Jon identified improving Running's marketing capability early on," said Perseus president David Steinberger. "In this business environment, books can't sell themselves." The overhaul began with the hiring of industry veteran Craig Herman in December to lead a consolidated marketing and publicity department. Greater attention to marketing will result in two author appearances on TheToday Show later this month; Pat Croce, author of Pirate Soul, is scheduled for November 17 and Delilah Winder, author of Delilah's Everyday Soul, will cook Thanksgiving dinner on November 22.
Everyday Soul, with a first printing of 50,000, is one of two lead cookbook titles for Running that is part of the company's attempt to move beyond regional cooking and develop a national list. In addition to Soul, Running believes Starting with Ingredientsby Aliza Green should have national appeal. Green has just begun a 20-city tour and the book has a first printing of 40,000. To accompany its cooking titles, Running has added titles done in cooperation with Wine Enthusiast. Three titles have just been released and Wine Enthusiast will promote the titles by direct mail, in ads in its magazine and on its Web site. Running has also just created its own Web site to support its cookbooks; runningpresscooks.com features sample recipes, excerpts and links to e-tailers where books can be bought.
In addition to making over the cookbook program, Anderson is revamping Running's Miniature Edition line, one of the company's signature programs. The popularity of the format had led Running to rush out titles without adequate support, Anderson said. The list has now been pruned to focus on the bestselling titles, Anderson said, and Running has added some new licenses, including Harry Potter and Scooby Doo.
Running is also looking to expand in the children's market. "We want to raise our image in the children's publishing world," said Anderson. "We're looking for innovative products that have wide appeal." To that end, in September, Running released Steven Caney's Ultimate Building Book. The 608-page, $29.95 title took Caney, who had published several popular books with Workman, 12 years to complete (Children's Bookshelf, Sept. 28). For younger children, Running just released Tickets to Ride, a picture book by newcomer Mark Rogalski, which Running is making available with six different jackets and, in a move it hopes will encourge stores to try the different jackets, is marketing them in cartons that contain two of each. To help build the children's list, Kelli Chipponeri joined the company last month as senior editor, from Penguin Books for Young Readers.
Of all the different initiatives implemented by Anderson since arriving at Running, the company's current publishing philosophy, said Anderson, is best reflected in Change the Way You View Everything Through Asset-Based Thinking. Released this spring, the business/self-help book has sold 30,000 copies. "We're looking for unique, well-designed books that do something different," Anderson said.