With the publication of Ben Mezrich’s Seven Wonders (Sept.), a fast-paced thriller with an Indiana Jones–type character at its center, Running Press is moving outside its comfort zone of lavish lifestyle, pop culture, and books on house and home. The thriller, the first of a planned trilogy, introduces the intrepid anthropologist Jack Grady, leading a worldwide hunt for his brother’s murderer. Many of the details of the mystery, which are tied to the Seven Wonders of the World, are based on Mezrich’s own experiences studying anthropology at Harvard.
“Although it seems hard to believe, almost everything in the book is based on real research, and almost all of it is grounded in historical fact,” says Mezrich, who is best known as the author of the narrative nonfiction books The Accidental Billionaires, the basis for the movie The Social Network, and Bringing Down the House, which became the movie 21.
“Running Press doesn’t usually publish fiction, so it’s a bit new for us,” says publicity manager Seta Zink. The Mezrich book is the second to result from a joint venture between Running Press and RatPac Press, the publishing arm of Hollywood director Brett Ratner and Australian financier James Packer. The book was developed in tandem with a screenplay, and the movie rights have already sold to 20th Century Fox, with Ratner and Packer producing.
Running Press publisher Chris Navratil explains that the house will partner with RatPac for one or two books each season, with titles related to Hollywood or entertainment or people in show biz.
The first collaboration, just out in April, was Sammy Davis Jr.: A Personal Journey with My Father by Tracey Davis. Spring 2015 will see a book on French film director Jean Renoir, which was a bestseller in France when it was published there. “In general, what we are interested in is books that are tied to an anniversary or an event, with lots of beautiful production values,” Navratil says. “We find that people want these as physical books. A few years ago, we did a $75 book on Hollywood costume designer Edith Head, and it did really well for us and continues to backlist.”
In the cookbook area, another strong field for the house with eight to 12 cookbooks each season, the list includes the just published Eat What You Love Everyday by Marlene Koch, the third book in her bestselling Eat What You Love series; The Vietnamese Market Cookbook: Spicy Sour Sweet by Van Tran and Anh Vu (Sept.) and Tim Federle’s humorous Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Cocktails With a Nursery Rhyme Twist (Nov.), a follow-up to his Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails With a Literary Twist, which was the winner of the 2013 Goodreads award for Cookbook of the Year.
In-booth signings at the Running Press booth (1406) include Ben Mezrich signing galleys of his novel today, at 11:30 a.m.; at 3 p.m., Marlene Koch signs finished books; and Tim Federle signs sippy cups tomorrow at 11 a.m. —Suzanne Mantell