In their nearly 15 year tenure at art publisher Taschen, husband-and-wife writing team Charlotte and Peter Fiell authored and edited 38 books on art, design, and architecture. Their books have, to date, sold over 2.8 million copies worldwide. They eventually broke off from Taschen, founding London-based Fiell Publishing in 2010. “Essentially we had nowhere else to go,” said Peter. “We had gone as far as we could possibly go within the world of Taschen.”
The Fiells describe their new venture as a publisher for “informed culture vultures.” According to Charlotte, their books are meant to take the exploration of design to a deeper level. “We felt that readership for design books has grown up with us,” she said. Forming the new company “was an opportunity to write books that were for people who knew a bit about design but who wanted to know more. Books that pushed a little further.”
After two years of independence, Fiell Publishing was acquired in 2012 by the Carlton Publishing Group arts imprint Goodman, headed up by Carlton chairman Jonathan Goodman. Following the acquisition, Carlton formed the Goodman Fiell imprint, and that combined effort has just released its inaugural list of eight titles for the U.S. Goodman Fiell hired Media Connect to do Stateside publicity for the line, and signed with Innovative Logistics and Continental Sales to handle sales and distribution. The Fiells still curate and edit their catalogue of titles, with editorial input from Goodman. The couple teamed up on three of the eight new releases, and Charlotte worked with coauthors on three more books.
The first title available in the U.S. from the imprint is Chairs: 1,000 Masterpieces of Modern Design—1800 to the Present Day. Also included in the list is Essential Equipment for the Kitchen: A Sourcebook of the World’s Best Designs. Both titles were written by the Fiells. In addition, Charlotte partnered with Emmanuelle Dirix to write 1930s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook. The books are a mix of hardcover and paperback, and range in price from $40 to $50. No decision has been made on the number of titles Goodman Fiell will release in the U.S. in 2014.
Most art book publishers contend with the digital question, and how best to adapt an inherently visual genre to an electronic format. “Pixels on screens just don’t give the same reader experience as print on paper,” said the Fiells. “It is really all about different delivery platforms. Digital is just another platform and we think it isn’t a question of either-or but both-and. We both love our Kindles and iPads but also really enjoy sitting down with a good printed book, which often provides a more sensorial experience.” In their newest venture, the Fiells don’t have any concrete digital plans, but, as lovers of graphic design, are prepared to embrace e-books as both editors and authors when the time is right.
“We’re not afraid of it, we think it’s an opportunity,” said Peter, but, he added, “I don’t think it’s quite there yet.”